Sydney researchers have developed a test that can determine if terminally ill and elderly patients will die within 30 days of being admitted to a hospital.

The Criteria for Screening and Triaging to Appropriate alternative care or CriSTAL test, developed by the University of New South Wales researcher Magnolia Cardona-Morrel, studies 29 indicators of health, including age, frailty, illness, mental impairment, past emergency admissions and heart rate, and thereafter determines a percentage estimate of the chance of death within one month.

Doctors are keeping people alive because they can. Hospitals are full of elderly people living longer because technology allows it. A lot of them would like to die at home.
- Dr. Magnolia Cardona-Morrel

According to researchers, CriSTAL is designed to reduce unnecessary invasive ineffective treatments and allow the elderly to spend their last few days with their loved ones.

Dr. Cardona-Morrel said the test will allow doctors to have a "transparent conversation" with terminally ill patients and seek their preference on whether or not they would like to receive life-saving treatments.

"The test is easy to administer and the [answers] are readily available in the patient's clinical records and it can be completed in five or 10 minutes," said Dr. Cardona-Morrel, reported The Sydney Morning Herald.

"Doctors are keeping people alive because they can. Hospitals are full of elderly people living longer because technology allows it. A lot of them would like to die at home.

"When a patient is diagnosed with a terminal illness their first question is always 'Doctor, how long do I have left?' Doctors see their role as to protect their patients so they don't like to give them sad or bad news."

The test, which was first presented at a medical conference in the US, is being hailed by medical professionals across the world.

"I had lots of nurses and doctors standing there saying 'We have been waiting for a tool like this for years, when can we start using it?' To me that is an indication there is a need out there," said Dr. Cardona-Morrel.

The test is already being implemented across various Irish and US hospitals, said Dr. Cardona-Morrel.