Hospitalisation due to falls in older people, Australia 2003-04

6 Jul 2007

This report examines Australian hospital data pertaining to fall injuries in people aged 65 and older in 2003-04. The number of fall events resulting in hospitalisation due to injury for older Australians remains high and the rate of fall-related injury incidents is particularly high for the oldest group within this population. Women are at greatest risk of fall-related injury. Fall incidents most commonly result in a fracture and hip fractures are particularly frequent. This report also highlights that a substantial proportion of fall-related injuries are injuries to the head, which may require more specifically-targeted prevention interventions. Multiple hospital separations due to a single fall incident substantially add to the burden of disease for older Australians. Separations principally involving follow-up care, rehabilitation and other fall-related conditions contributed 136% more bed-days than those occupied due to initial episodes due to fall injury incidents and brought the total number of fall-related hospital bed-days for people aged 65 and older in 2003-04 to over 1.2 million. The estimated total cost for fall-related acute care in Australian hospitals for people aged 65 and older in 2003-04 was $566.0 million. This represents a substantial proportion of the burden of disease and health expenditure for this population and suggests that the lifetime cost of falls in older people may be substantially higher than has been previously calculated.

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