Musculoskeletal Conditions in Older Men and Women: An Emergency Room Study

Kevin de Jesús, William Ramos-Guasp, Richard Fontánez, Humberto Ramírez, José G. Conde, Juan González, Walter R. Frontera


Objective: To study the utilization of emergency room (ER) services for health complaints of the musculoskeletal (MSK) system in older men and women. Methods: Data from all medical encounters at the ER of a teaching hospital for calendar years 2016-2020 were extracted from an electronic database. MSK encounters were defined as those with ICD 10-CM M and S codes in the primary diagnosis field of the database. Frequency distributions were calculated by year, sex, and age group for MSK and all encounters. The most frequent codes used by sex and age groups were assessed. Results: The number of unique patients with medical encounters at the ER during the five-year period was 94,346. There was a total of 220,153 encounters (median:1 encounter per patient; interquartile range:1-3). A 33.2% reduction in the number of encounters occurred in 2020 compared to 2019. The total number of unique patients in the 60 yr. and older group was 24,412 (25.9% of all unique patients). The total number of encounters in the group 60 yr. and older was 56,294 (25.6% of all encounters). Women accounted for 31,488 (56%) encounters in this age group. A total of 12,744 encounters (22.6%) in older adults involved the MSK system and this proportion decreased with increasing age. The most common MSK conditions included low back pain, pain in joints, and femoral fractures. Conclusion: Older adults with MSK health conditions represent a substantial portion of ER patients. Many MSK health conditions could be evaluated and treated in other health care settings.


musculoskeletal injury, elderly, ICD-10, emergency room encounters

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