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Fall-related ED visits rising for seniors

Posted Nov 05 2009 10:01pm


Accidents are among the top 10 causes of death in those over 65.  Falls are far and away the most common cause of injury and subsequent death from injury in seniors.  We have all seen ads on television regarding alert systems for the elderly, particularly those who live alone.  The famous line, “help I’ve fallen and can’t get up”, has become part of the daily American lexicon.  However, falls are always serious business, especially for the elderly.  Bone fractures, such as hip and pelvic fractures, are not only painful, but often require surgery and prolonged convalescence and rehab in order to recover.  Additionally, fractures usually cause limited or even total loss of mobility resulting  in bed rest for the most part. This is an ideal set up for pneumonia and related pulmonary complication which are most often the actual cause of death.  Of course, neurological trauma (head trauma) also leads to death in the case of falls, most specifically intracranial bleeds, caused by the tearing of veins along the surface of the brain.  Subdural hematomas may not actually show up in terms of symptoms for days or even weeks.  Because so many of those over 65 are on blood thinners of some kind (such as Coumadin, Plavix and Aspirin) they are a high risk for bleeding due to falls.  Fall prevention is essential in any home as is a means of communication in case of emergency.  Falls can and do kill  . . . ben kazie md

Falls continue to be a serious problem for elderly patients. Seniors who hurt themselves in falls made more than 2.1 million emergency department visits in 2006, according to a report released in October by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. 30% of these patients had to be admitted to the hospital, with ED costs totaling $6.8 billion. The cost of all medical care directly related to falls is about $20 billion.  One in 10 visits to the ED among adults 65 and older were related to a fall, according to the report

10% of seniors’ ED visits related to falls –

Each year, approximately one-third of elderly adults experience a fall.1 Falls are the most common cause of fatal injuries among elderly adults age 65 years and older, as well as the most common cause of nonfatal injuries in this population.2 The direct medical cost for fall-related injuries among the elderly is about $20 billion annually and is expected to increase substantially over the next decade as the population ages.3 Often, common fall-related injuries, such as fractures, open wounds, or head traumas, are serious enough to result in emergency department (ED) treatment. These injuries can impair mobility and may require admission to a long-term care (LTC) facility for a year or more.4 Because many falls are preventable and their impact on the U.S. health care system is significant, it is important to better understand the types of fall-related injuries experienced by elderly adults, particularly those injuries requiring treatment in an ED.

Emergency Department Visits for Injurious Falls among the Elderly, 2006 –

Seniors are more at risk of accident due to balance disorders, failing eyesight and slower reflexes. Simple falls can result in fractures that cause immobility, disability and may hasten death. Accidents cannot be planned, but precautions can be made to prevent them.

Falls and Fracture: Stay safe, stay independent! –

Falls and Older Adults –

National Vital Statistics Reports; Deaths: Final Data for 2006 –

AARP, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, aging, AMA, American College of Emergency Medicine, American Medical Association, broken bones, broken hip, Congress, doctors, elderly, elderly population, emergencies, emergency, emergency rooms, fall injuries, fall prevention, fall related costs, fall related injuries, falls, fatal injuries, fractures, head trama, health news, health system, injuries, injury prevention, life expectancy, Medicaid, medical news, Medicare, medicine, medicine news, neurologic, news, orthopedic injuries, orthopedic trauma, prevention, public health, research, seniors, Trauma

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