Parkinson’s patients more than twice as likely than other patients to die in hospital following emergency admission, according to the largest ever study of its kind in England.
The study, published in the journal Parkinsonism and Related Disorders, examined admissions by Parkinson’s patients and compared them to those for all other causes over a four-year period.
It found that those with Parkinson’s were more likely to be admitted as an emergency admission than for elective reasons – 72% versus 28%, respectively.
Parkinson’s patients were almost twice as likely to stay in hospital for more than three months and the average length of stay for emergency admissions was seven days longer than admissions from all other causes.
In addition, those with Parkinson’s were almost 2.5 times more likely to die in hospital, with the risk increasing with age.
“A greater understanding is required about the whole process of hospitalisation in Parkinson’s patients”
The main reasons for emergency admissions were pneumonia, physical deterioration, urinary tract infection and hip fractures. Parkinson’s patients were up to twice as likely to be admitted for these conditions, compared to the average patient.
The lead author Professor Carl Clarke, from the University of Birmingham, and Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “A greater understanding is required about the whole process of hospitalisation in Parkinson’s patients including why they are admitted, what happens during admission, and what happens on discharge.
“Only then can we develop improved processes to prevent and better manage hospitalisation,” he said.
“Urgent attention should be given to developing cost-effective interventions to reduce the burden of hospitalisation for patients, carers and healthcare systems,” he added.
The study included all admissions – emergency and non-emergency – of people aged 35 years of age who were admitted to hospital between 2009 and 2013.
Steve Ford, chief executive of the charity Parkinson’s UK, said: “Poor, underdeveloped Parkinson’s services mean people with the condition are being admitted as an emergency into hospital at alarmingly high rates, staying longer than they should – and all too often leaving in far worse health than they went in, or never going home at all.
“We urgently need to see better, more joined-up services and greater education about the condition,” he said.
He highlighted the charity’s new UK Parkinson’s Excellence Network intended to bring together healthcare professionals to improve care for people affected by the condition.