School of Medicine

Improving emergency care for people with dementia is focus of new grant

Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis is one of four institutions awarded a total of $7.5 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study and improve care in emergency departments for people with dementia.

The school’s Division of Emergency Medicine, which will become the Department of Emergency Medicine in February, is one of the four grant recipients.

For the project, experts in emergency medicine, geriatrics and dementia will identify and address gaps in emergency care, according to Christopher Carpenter, MD, a professor of emergency medicine and one of the principal investigators. Results from follow-up studies are expected to influence policy and care.

Carpenter is collaborating locally with John Morris, MD, the Harvey A. & Dorismae Hacker Friedman Distinguished Professor of Neurology and director of the Knight Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center; Nancy Morrow-Howell, PhD, the Bettie Bofinger Brown Distinguished Professor of Social Policy at the Brown School and director of the Harvey A. Friedman Center for Aging; and David Carr, MD, the Alan A. and Edith L. Wolff Professor of Geriatric Medicine at the School of Medicine.

“Although geriatric emergency care has accelerated and become more formalized over the last decade, the emergency department too often is not an ideal care setting for people with dementia,” Carpenter said. “Our goal is to improve care for older adults with cognitive impairment. Understanding more about their medical conditions and how they wish to be cared for will not only help clinicians better treat older adults with cognitive impairment but also will provide them with discharge plans to keep them safer at home.”

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