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A UCLA study has revealed that vulnerable elderly patients receive only 65 percent of the tests and other diagnostic evaluations and treatments for a number of conditions, including heart disease and diabetes.

The research was gathered from 100,258 community-dwelling geriatric residents in 19 California counties. All the patients studied were enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid, and all a mean age of participants was 81. The residents were defined as geriatric patients who are at increased risk of death or functional decline.

“Thirty-five percent of the medical care interventions that they should have received were not provided, indicating significant room for improvement,” said lead author Dr. David S. Zingmond, assistant professor of general internal medicine and health services research at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “We’d much rather have everything higher — say, at least 90 percent.”

The researchers based their work on linked Medicare and Medicaid claims data — something that is not routinely done.

“Going forward, measures like these will be increasingly important because more detailed health care information, such as electronic health records, are difficult to obtain,” Zingmond said.

The study was funded by the National Institute on Aging and by the California Department of Health and Human Services Office of Long Term Care, and appeared in the October issue of the journal Medical Care.

For more information on this subject, please refer to the section on Nursing Home and Elder Abuse.

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