Older adults (OA) are at risk for potential hazards of hospitalization, these include: immobility, delirium, medication side effects, malnutrition, pressure ulcers, procedures, peri- and postoperative periods, and hospital-acquired infections and more. Discuss in detail three potential hazards for this population while in the hospital and identify potential prevention strategies for each hazard.


As the global population ages, the number of older adults (OA) requiring hospitalization is increasing. While hospitalization can be beneficial for the treatment of acute illnesses, it also poses several potential hazards for this population. Older adults are particularly susceptible to various adverse effects during their hospital stay, including immobility, delirium, medication side effects, malnutrition, pressure ulcers, procedures, peri- and postoperative periods, and hospital-acquired infections, among others. This essay will focus on examining three specific potential hazards faced by older adults in the hospital setting and discuss potential prevention strategies for each hazard.

Potential Hazards in the Hospital Setting

1. Delirium

Delirium is a common and serious complication experienced by older adults during hospitalization. It is characterized by an acute and fluctuating disturbance in attention and cognition, and it often results in significant functional decline. Delirium is associated with increased morbidity, mortality, longer hospital stays, and higher healthcare costs.

One potential prevention strategy for delirium in older adults is the implementation of a multi-component intervention program. This program may include the provision of cognitive stimulation activities, mobility programs, optimization of sensory input, sleep promotion, and early detection and management of delirium symptoms. Such interventions help to maintain cognitive function, promote independent mobility, reduce sedative medication use, and enhance sleep quality.

Furthermore, it is essential to ensure that older adults have their cognitive and functional abilities assessed prior to admission. This baseline assessment can help healthcare professionals detect any changes in these abilities during hospitalization promptly. Additionally, regular re-assessment throughout the hospital stay is crucial to identify any emerging delirium symptoms and allow for early intervention.

2. Medication Side Effects

Older adults are more susceptible to adverse drug reactions due to age-related pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic changes, polypharmacy, and comorbidities. In the hospital setting, medication errors and unnecessary or inappropriate medication use can further contribute to the risk of medication side effects.

One potential prevention strategy for medication side effects in older adults is medication reconciliation. This process involves comparing the medications a patient was taking prior to admission with the drugs prescribed during hospitalization. Identifying and resolving discrepancies can reduce the risk of adverse drug events. Utilizing electronic health records and involving pharmacists in medication reconciliation can enhance the accuracy and effectiveness of this strategy.

Furthermore, education of healthcare professionals and patients is crucial for safe medication use. Providing training on medication management best practices, conducting regular drug reviews to minimize polypharmacy, and involving patients and their families in medication decision-making can help prevent medication side effects. Additionally, the use of decision support systems and computerized physician order entry systems can assist healthcare professionals in prescribing appropriate medications and avoiding potentially harmful drug combinations.

3. Pressure Ulcers

Pressure ulcers, also known as bedsores or pressure sores, are a significant concern for older adults in the hospital setting. They result from prolonged pressure on the skin, leading to tissue ischemia and necrosis. Pressure ulcers can cause severe pain, impair mobility, prolong hospital stays, and increase the risk of infection.

One potential prevention strategy for pressure ulcers in older adults is the implementation of comprehensive skin care protocols. These protocols should include regular skin assessments, use of pressure-relieving support surfaces (e.g., specialized mattresses), frequent repositioning of the patient to relieve pressure, and appropriate use of moisture barriers and skin protectants. Educating healthcare professionals and caregivers on proper skin care techniques, such as gentle cleansing and avoiding excessive rubbing, is also essential.

Additionally, nutritional support plays a critical role in preventing pressure ulcers. Older adults are at risk for malnutrition, which can impair wound healing. To prevent pressure ulcers, providing an adequate intake of calories, protein, and essential nutrients is vital. Collaboration with registered dietitians can help develop personalized nutrition plans for older adults at risk of pressure ulcers.


Hospitalization poses several potential hazards for older adults, including delirium, medication side effects, and pressure ulcers. However, implementing preventive strategies can help mitigate the risks associated with these hazards. Multi-component intervention programs, medication reconciliation, education on safe medication use, comprehensive skin care protocols, and nutritional support are among the potential prevention strategies that can contribute to improving the safety and well-being of older adults during their hospital stay. It is crucial for healthcare professionals to be aware of these hazards and actively implement preventive measures to ensure the best possible outcomes for this vulnerable population.

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