BACKGROUND: Adults aged 65 years and older account for more than 33% of annual visits to internal medicine (IM) generalists and specialists. Geriatrics experiences are not standardized for IM residents. Data are lacking on IM residents' continuity experiences with older adults and competencies relevant to their care.
OBJECTIVE: To explore patient demographics and the prevalence of common geriatric conditions in IM residents' continuity clinics.
METHODS: We collected data on age and sex for all IM residents' active clinic patients during 2011-2012. Academic site continuity panels for 351 IM residents were drawn from 4 academic medical center sites. Common geriatric conditions, defined by Assessing Care of Vulnerable Elders measures and the American Geriatrics Society IM geriatrics competencies, were identified through International Classification of Disease, ninth edition, coded electronic problem lists for residents' patients aged 65 years and older and cross-checked by audit of 20% of patients' charts across 1 year.
RESULTS: Patient panels for 351 IM residents (of a possible 411, 85%) were reviewed. Older adults made up 21% of patients in IM residents' panels (range, 14%-28%); patients ≥ 75 (8%) or 85 (2%) years old were relatively rare. Concordance between electronic problem lists and chart audit was poor for most core geriatric conditions. On chart audit, active management of core geriatric conditions was variable: for example, memory loss (10%-25%), falls/gait abnormality (26%-42%), and osteoporosis (11%-35%).
CONCLUSIONS: The IM residents' exposure to core geriatric conditions and management of older adults was variable across 4 academic medical center sites and often lower than anticipated in community practice.
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