Patient Care

Value of Ultra-Brief Cognitive Assessments in Predicting Negative Hospital Outcomes


Clinical question: What is the value of ultra-brief cognitive assessments in predicting hospital outcomes?

Background: Cognitive assessment tools can be used to predict patient outcomes in the hospital setting. Physician time constraints limit use of longer traditional cognitive testing, and little is known about the effectiveness of ultra-brief (less than one minute) assessments and their predictive value.

Study design: Secondary data analysis of a quality improvement project.

Setting: Tertiary, Veterans Administration hospital.

Synopsis: Using data from a prior inpatient database, 3,232 patients over the age of 60 were screened on admission using the modified Richmond Agitation and Sedation Scale (mRASS) for arousal and the months of the year backwards (MOTYB) for attention. Abnormal mRASS and incorrect MOTYB predicted negative hospital outcomes: increased length of stay (incident rate ratio 1.23, 95% CI 1.17-1.3); increased restraint use (risk ratio 5.05, 95% CI); increased hospital mortality (RR 3.46, 95% CI 1.24-9.63); and decreased rates of being discharged home (RR 2.97, 95% CI: 2.42-3.64).

This study highlights the value of two ultra-brief cognitive assessment tools in the prediction of potential poor outcomes during inpatient admission. Hospitalists need to identify high-risk patients, and these tools allow for rapid assessment at the time of admission, without a significant time constraint for the busy hospitalist.

Bottom Line: The use of ultra-brief cognitive assessment tools in patients over age 60 can predict negative inpatient outcomes.

Citation: Yevchak AM, Doherty K, Archambault EG, Kelly B, Fonda JR, Rudolph JL. The association between an ultra-brief cognitive screening in older adults and hospital outcomes. J Hosp Med. 2015;10(10):651-657.

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