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Prospective cohort study of fever incidence and risk in elderly persons living at home


Objective To determine the incidence of fever among elderly persons under home medical management, diagnosis at fever onset and outcomes from a practical standpoint.

Design Prospective cohort study.

Setting 5 clinics in residential areas of Tokyo that process an average of 50–200 outpatients/day.

Participants Patients (n=419) aged ≥65 years who received home medical management from the five clinics between 1 October 2009 and 30 September 2010.

Main outcome measures Fever (≥37.5°C or ≥1.5°C above usual body temperature), diagnosis at onset and outcomes (cure at home, hospitalisation and death).

Results The incidence of fever was 2.5/1000 patient-days (95% CI 2.2 to 2.8). Fever occurred at least once (229 fever events) among one-third of the participants during the study period. Fever was more likely to arise in the wheelchair users or bedridden than in ambulatory individuals (HR 1.9 (95% CI 1.3 to 2.8; p<0.01); in patients with moderate-to-severe rather than those with none-to-mild cognitive impairment (HR, 1.7 (95% CI 1.1 to 2.6, p=0.01); and in those whose care-need levels were ≥3 rather than ≤2 (HR, 4.5 (95% CI 2.9 to 7.0; p<0.01). The causes of fever were pneumonia/bronchitis (n=103), skin and soft tissue infection (n=26), urinary tract infection (n=22) and the common cold (n=13). Fever was cured in 67% and 23% of patients at home and in hospital, respectively, and 5% of patients each died at home and in hospital. Antimicrobial agents treated 153 (67%) events in the home medical care setting.

Conclusions Fever was more likely to occur in those requiring higher care levels and the main cause of fever was pneumonia/bronchitis. Healthcare providers should consider the conditions of elderly residents with lower objective functional status.

  • Geriatric Medicine
  • General Medicine (see Internal Medicine)

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