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If ACE Units Are So Great, Why Aren't They Everywhere?

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   April 25, 2013

"ACE" hospital units (Acute Care of the Elderly) reduce costs, drop lengths of stay, improve seniors' functional abilities, decrease need for anti-psychotic drugs, pare days on urinary catheters, reduce readmissions and slash adverse events.

These specialized units have been operating for about 20 years, improving outcomes and lowering costs most everywhere they're tried, we're told.

That's what various research papers show. Two studies published this week in JAMA Internal Medicine document similar benefits from Acute Care for Elders programs at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York and at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital.

See Also: Hospital 'ACE' Teams Curb Adverse Events, LOS, Costs

So I have to ask.

If these concentrated efforts are so amazingly effective, why are there only about 200 in the country? Why aren't the rest of the nation's 4,000 hospitals establishing them for their growing populations of baby boomer patients, many cognitively-impaired, to improve their care and reduce costs?

"We aren't glitzy and we don't make a lot of money, like cardiac cath labs," replies Denise Kresevic, a clinical nurse specialist at University Hospitals Case Medical Center, which has two 15-bed ACE units, one of which began in 1993 and is thought to be the oldest in the nation.


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