The Geriatrics “Profanisaurus.” Volume 2 –  The diagnostic myths that do not die

Dan Thomas is an ST5 based in the Mersey Deanery (HENW) and is the Clinical Quality Representative on the BGS Trainees Council. He tweets @dan26wales

In 2013 Professor David Oliver wrote a blog, the Geriatrics “Profanisaurus”, a list of words and phrases that should be banned, he encouraged other ‘BGS-ers to join in the fun and add their own “unutterables”.

My contribution to this list is some frequently encountered diagnoses that should be approached with scepticism.

‘Bilateral cellulitis’: If both legs are infected then the person should be unwell. Usually red legs are caused by a combination of underlying pathology; acute lipodermatosclerosis, venous hypertension, venous stasis dermatitis, lymphoedema or panniculits. The legs are hot and swollen but in the context of someone who is afebrile with minimal inflammatory response. The reason they are not responding to antibiotics is because they do not have an infection. Continue reading

Silent compression fractures: a missed opportunity

Agnes Jonsson is a graduate of University College Dublin in 2013 and is currently working as a Registrar in Orthogeriatrics in St. Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin. Her areas of interest are dementia care and quality improvement. She wrote this blog with input from Dr. Yasser Aljabi, Orthopaedic Registrar. Together they are working to create a pathway of care for vertebral fractures in St. Vincent’s Hospital.

Osteoporotic fragility fractures have an estimated annual cost of 2 billion pounds in the UK. This includes the cost of acute hospital stay, rehabilitation and social care. Only a very small proportion of the cost is invested in pharmacological management and secondary prevention of osteoporosis. The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends treatment with antiresorptive agents for patients with confirmed osteoporosis on DXA and for patients with neck of femur or vertebral fractures. Vertebral compression fractures have recently started to attract increasing amounts of attention, similar to that shown for hip fractures years ago prior to the implementation of hip fracture pathways of care. Continue reading

A generation of Doctors unable to look after their patients?

Dr Anthony James is a Consultant Physician at Princess of Wales Hospital. 

There have been many changes in recent years. The patients are older with more frailty, multiple comorbidities and a mixture of social and medical issues. These patients are often described as ‘complex’, making them sound as if they are something special. The reality is that they are now the norm and everybody should be able to deal with the norm. These problems are recognised by Royal College of Physicians in Hospitals on the Edge? The time for action (2012);

‘All hospital inpatients deserve to receive safe, high-quality, sustainable care centered around their needs and delivered in an appropriate setting by respectful, compassionate, expert health professionals. Yet it is increasingly clear that our hospitals are struggling to cope with the challenge of an ageing population and increasing hospital admissions.’ Continue reading

‘We don’t need no education…’ Teaching about delirium in medical schools

Dr Claire Copeland is a Consultant Physician in Care of the Elderly and Stroke Medicine at Forth Valley Royal Hospital. Her paper Development of an international undergraduate curriculum for delirium using a modified Delphi process has recently been published in Age and Ageing. She tweets at @Sparklystar55

Back in 2015 a workshop at the European Delirium Association (EDA) conference was held to bring together a group of delirium experts. Its purpose? To develop a consensus agreement on a delirium curriculum for medical undergraduates.

Most of you reading this I’m sure will be familiar with delirium. It’s technically been around for centuries. However there are many working in healthcare who still do not know about it. Or if they do, they refer to it by every other name except delirium. Continue reading

Advanced Professionals supporting our frail patients, but how?

Beverley Marriott is an Advanced Nurse Practitioner working in the Birmingham community healthcare foundation trust. She is also a King’s College Older Person Fellow. She tweets @bevbighair

Nationally there is increasing recognition of the needs of frail older people in health systems, and  the UK’s rapidly ageing population will only increase in the years to come.

Dr Ram Byravan (Consultant and Clinical Director Heart of England Elderly Care) states that the prevalence of multimorbidity is on the rise, with 44% of people over 75 now living with more than one long-term condition –  geriatricians and GPs are uniquely suited to lead the response to the challenges of caring for this group. Continue reading

The GERIATRIC 5Ms – the 5 simple words every geriatrician needs to know (the new mantra)

Frank Molnar is a Canadian Royal College specialist in Geriatric Medicine who serves as the President of the Canadian Geriatrics Society and as the editor of that society’s Continuing Medical Education Journal. He tweets @FrankMolnarCGS

Those outside Specialized Geriatric Services have long had great difficulty understanding what specialists in Geriatrics do. We have contributed to this lack of clarity. As experts in complexity we often have difficulty communicating simply. In well-intentioned efforts to be inclusive and comprehensive we have employed long complex definitions that few outside our field can understand much less recall.

How often have you heard “what do you geriatricians really do?” Are you tired of explaining and re-explaining yourself? Are you looking for a better way to explain and sell our specialty? Continue reading

How older people move in bed when they are ill

Kenneth Rockwood MD, FRCPC, FRCP is Professor of Medicine (Geriatric Medicine & Neurology) at Dalhousie University, and a staff physician at the Halifax Infirmary of the Nova Scotia Health Authority. He tweet @Krockdoc  

The dangers of going to bed”, elaborated by Richard Asher in 1947 illustrates for just how long the hospital bed has been recognized as a hazard for older adults.  It can also be source of rich clinical information.  Understanding this through quantification and plain language descriptors offers one means to “geriatrize” routine care. Like many of such workaday skills, assessing how someone moves in bed is not that tricky, but it requires both the cognitive task of paying attention and the affective one of wanting to do so. Continue reading

Old problems, new solutions

Alistair Burns is Professor of Old Age Psychiatry and Vice Dean for the Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences at The University of Manchester. He is the National Clinical Director for Dementia and Older Peoples’ Mental Health, NHS England. This blog was originally published on the NHS England website. He will be speaking at the upcoming BGS Autumn Meeting in London.

As now seems to be tradition, let’s start with some statistics.

Up to four out of ten people over the age of 65 experience mental health problems. Depression is both the most common and most treatable mental illness in old age, affecting one in five older people in the community. This figure doubles in the presence of physical illness and trebles in hospitals and care homes. Nor should we forget that older people also experience severe mental illnesses.

About one fifth of all suicides happen in older people. Risk factors include: being male, being widowed, increasing age, social isolation, physical illness – present in up to 80 per cent of cases – pain, alcohol misuse and depressive illness past or present. Continue reading

Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment and the role it plays in improving care delivered to the older person

Dr Diarmuid O’Shea is a Consultant Geriatrician at St Vincent’s University Hospital Dublin, and Clinical Lead for the National Clinical Programme of Older People in Ireland.  

Ms. Carmel Hoey is a Nursing & Midwifery Planning and Development Officer at the NMPD Unit, Galway, and HSE Service Planner for the National Clinical Programme of Older People in Ireland. 

Countries around the world are seeing significant growth in the numbers of people living longer and healthier lives. We all need to reflect proactively on how we can best maximise the intergenerational benefits this will undoubtedly bring and we must also address the challenges it will generate.

Ireland is no different, with a substantial growth evident in our older population. The number of people aged over 65 years increased by 14% between 2006 and 2011. An increase of 17% is predicted between 2011 and 2016, and a further 17% is expected by 2021 (Central Statistics Office, 2013). Continue reading

New Horizons in multimorbidity

Dr John V. Hindle was appointed Senior Clinical Lecturer in Care of the Elderly, to the School of Medical Sciences, in 2009. He has also held an honorary appointment as Senior Lecturer in Bangor University’s School of Psychology, since 1998. Here he discusses his Age and Ageing paper New horizons in multimorbidity in older adults.

There is increasing political and clinical interests in the concepts of multimorbidity and frailty. For those of us working with older people in primary and secondary care we feel that intuitively we understand these concepts. After all, we have been working towards improvement in care people with multimorbidity and frailty for many decades, and in some ways this was the origin of the specialty of Geriatric Medicine. However, although I have been working as a geriatrician for over 30 years, armed with my intuition, it is only in recent times that I have begun to truly understand the complexities of these issues. In recent years the concept of multimorbidity and particularly frailty have been injected with scientific understanding and explanation. We have come to understand the great impact that these issues have on health and social care, and the pressures that they bring to bear. The complexity of multimorbidity in the context of frailty, dementia and polypharmacy particularly bears a substantial healthcare burden. If like me you struggle to understand the full picture of the relationship between frailty and multi-morbidity, it is worth reading the article on New Horizons on Multimorbidity in Older Adults [1]. This overview helps explain the link between the concepts of multi-mobility and frailty and their relevance to the healthcare of older people. Although many people live with multimorbidity in midlife, particularly contributed to by social deprivation, it is important to understand that complex multimorbidity increases with increasing age.  The majority of older people have two or more long term conditions with care home residents having significant levels of multimorbidity.    Continue reading