FALLS: More Trouble May Follow

More than half of elderly patients (age 65 and older) who visited an emergency department because of injuries sustained in a fall suffered adverse events – including additional falls, hospitalization and death – within 6 months. The results of a study examining how risk factors predict recurrent falls and adverse events were published online in Annals of Emergency Medicine.

Of patients who visited the emergency department for injuries sustained in a fall, 7.7 percent developed adverse events within 7 days, 21.4 percent developed adverse events within 30 days and 50.3 percent developed adverse events within 6 months. Within 6 months, 22.6 percent had at least one additional fall, 42.6 percent revisited the emergency department, 31.1 percent had subsequent hospitalization and 2.6 percent had died.

“Emergency physicians have a tremendous opportunity to reduce the very high adverse event rate among older emergency patients who have fallen,” said Dr. Sri-on, who worked on the original report. “Fall guidelines exist and work needs to be done to increase their implementation in emergency departments so patients can be educated on how not to fall again once they have been discharged from the emergency department.”

Read our recent article on avoiding falls

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