We evaluated the effectiveness of the Subacute Ambulatory care for the Functionally challenged and Elderly (SAFE) programme, a post-emergency department (ED) discharge intervention for elderly and functionally challenged patients, in reducing acute hospital admissions.Methods
This study was a 32-month retrospective quasi-experimental study comparing patients with at least one of six diagnostic classifications who underwent SAFE intervention with those who were eligible but declined and received usual ED care (control). The primary outcomes were rates of first acute hospital admission at 30 and 60 days post-ED discharge. Secondary outcomes were 20-day withdrawal rate and 60-day mortality. The difference in primary outcome between the two groups was compared using a Cox proportional hazards model. We reported adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) with their 95% confidence intervals (CIs) adjusting for predefined factors of age, sex, triage risk assessment tool scores and baseline ED utilization and acute hospital admission rates in the past year.Results
There were 438 and 209 patients in the intervention and control groups, respectively. The intervention group had reduced risk of first acute hospital admission at 30 days (10 vs. 27%, HR=0.34, 95% CI: 0.22–0.52) and 60 days (18 vs. 33%, HR=0.48, 95% CI: 0.34–0.69) compared with the control. The 20-day withdrawal rate was 3.2%. Both groups did not differ in 60-day mortality rates.Conclusion
The SAFE programme was effective in reducing first acute hospital admissions in selected elderly and functionally challenged patients after ED discharge at 30 and 60 days compared with usual ED discharge care.