A new frailty index shows promise in determining how acute illness affects functional ability in older patients admitted to hospital, according to a new study in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Older, frail adults often lose the ability to function if they are admitted to hospital for a sudden acute illness. Understanding how to measure seniors’ frailty in the context of their illness may help in providing them with specific supports after discharge from hospital, according to a media release from Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Researchers used routine laboratory tests to create a frailty index (FI-Laboratory) linked to hospital outcomes data based on a group of adults admitted to University College Hospital, London, UK. A higher score on the FI-Laboratory was associated with an 18% increased likelihood of readmission and 45% increased likelihood of death when accounting for other health factors, per the release.

“Assessing clinical frailty in the acute care setting is difficult,” Dr Samuel Searle, Dalhousie University and MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing at UCL, and coauthors, write.

“The FI-Laboratory can help to identify complex, acutely ill older adults at hospital admission who have accumulated multiple health deficits and are at an increased risk of adverse outcomes.”

“By quantifying both acute and chronic deficits, the score may draw attention to risk that is not always apparent clinically,” they continue.

The authors note that although the FI-Laboratory is being studied in several clinical settings, it is not yet known whether it will help improve clinical outcomes for patients.

[Source(s): Canadian Medical Association Journal, EurekAlert]