Measuring Potentially Avoidable Acute Care Transfers From Long-Term Care Homes in Quebec: a Cross Sectional Study


  • Deniz Cetin-Sahin McGill University; Donald Berman Maimonides Geriatric Centre for Research in Aging
  • Mark Karanofsky McGill University; Jewish General Hospital CIUSSS Centre-Ouest-de-l’Île-de-Montréal
  • Greta G. Cummings University of Alberta
  • Isabelle Vedel McGill University; Jewish General Hospital
  • Machelle Wilchesky McGill University; Berman Maimonides Geriatric Centre for Research in Aging; Jewish General Hospital



Potentially avoidable emergency transfers, Hospitalizations, Acute care transfers, Long-term care, Nursing homes, Geriatric medicine, Health services research



Potentially avoidable emergency department transfers (PAEDTs) and hospitalizations (PAHs) from long-term care (LTC) homes are two key quality improvement metrics. We aimed to: 1) Measure proportions of PAEDTs and PAHs in a Quebec sample; and 2) Compare them with those reported for the rest of Canada.


We conducted a repeated cross-sectional study of residents who were received at one tertiary hospital between April 2017 and March 2019 from seven LTC homes in Quebec, Canada. The MedUrge emergency department database was used to extract transfers and resident characteristics. Using published definitions, PAEDTs and PAHs were identified from principal emergency department and hospitalization diagnoses, respectively. PAEDT and PAH proportions were compared to those reported by the Canadian Institute for Health Information.


A total of 1,233 transfers by 692 residents were recorded, among which 36.3% were classified as being potentially avoidable: 22.8% ‘PAEDT only’, 11.6% ‘both PAEDT & PAH’, and 1.9% ‘PAH only’. Shortness of breath was the most common reason for transfer. Pneumonia was the most common diagnosis from the ‘both PAEDT & PAH’ category. PAEDTs and PAHs accounted for 95% and 37% of potentially avoidable transfers, respectively. Among 533 hospitalizations, 31.3% were PAHs. These proportions were comparable to the rest of Canada, with some differences in proportions of transfers due to congestive heart failure, urinary tract infection, and implanted device management.


PAEDTs far outweigh PAHs in terms of frequency, and their monitoring is important for quality assurance as they may inform LTC-level interventions aimed at their reduction.


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How to Cite

Cetin-Sahin D, Karanofsky M, G. Cummings G, Vedel I, Wilchesky M. Measuring Potentially Avoidable Acute Care Transfers From Long-Term Care Homes in Quebec: a Cross Sectional Study. Can Geriatr J [Internet]. 2023 Sep. 1 [cited 2023 Sep. 29];26(3):339-4. Available from:



Original Research