This report focuses on trends in hospitalised (serious) fall injury for people aged 65 and older that occurred over the period 2002–03 to 2012–13. Information is also presented on the incidence of hospitalised fall injury in the financial year 2012–13 and the hospital care provided.
Fall injury cases
The estimated number of serious injuries due to falls in people aged 65 and older in 2012–13 was 98,704. Females accounted for most of these fall injury cases, and rates of cases were higher for females than for males for all age groups.
Age-standardised rates of hospitalised fall injury cases increased over the 11 years to June 2013 (3% per year). There were more than 24,000 extra fall injury cases for people aged 65 and older in 2012–13 than there would have been if the rate of falls had remained stable since 2002–03.
The largest proportion (26%) of fall injury cases for people aged 65 and older in 2012–13 were Injuries to the hip and thigh. Fractures of the neck of the femur (also commonly called hip fractures) accounted for the majority of these injuries (74%). Injuries to the head were the second most common outcome of a fall (22%). There was a decrease in the rate of hip fractures due to falls (–2% per year) between 2002–03 and 2012–13. In contrast, falls resulting in head injuries increased at a particularly high rate (7% per year).
Increases in the rate of fall injury cases and fall-related head injury were most apparent for residents of Major cities (4% and 8% per year, respectively).
Around 72% of fall injury cases in 2012–13 were recorded as having occurred in either the home or a residential aged care facility. The age-standardised rate of falls in the home for older people living in the community was 1,655 per 100,000 population while the rate of falls for older people living in residential aged care was 9,037 per 100,000 population. These rates are likely to be underestimated because of missing information on the places in which falls occurred.
Hospital care for fall injury
In addition to the initial hospitalisations for these fall injury cases, there were more than 120,000 other fall-related hospital separations (mainly for rehabilitation care) for people aged 65 and older in 2012–13. The length of stay in hospital as a result of an injurious fall takes into account time spent in hospital following transfers after the initial hospitalisation and for fall-related rehabilitation and related care.
In total, there were 1.4 million days of patient care over the year, with the average total length of stay per fall injury case estimated to be 14.0 days. Overall, one in every 10 days spent in hospital by a person aged 65 or older in 2012–13 was attributable to an injurious fall. The days of patient care attributable to fall-related injury rose from 0.8 million patient days in 2002–03 to 1.4 million patient days in 2012–13.