Falls Prevention

Each year over 300,000 people 65 and over are hospitalized for hip fractures with more than 95% of those caused by falling. Women experience 75% of all hip fractures as they fall more frequently than men and more often suffer from osteoporosis (Preventation). The average hospital cost for a fall injury is over $30,000.

According to a recent HealthDay – News for Healthier Living article winter may not be the culprit in most elderly falls. A recent retrospective study of 544 patients treated at the Hospital of Central Connecticut between 2013 and 2016 revealed that 55% of hip fractures occurred in warm weather months, with the highest rates in May, September and October. Additionally, more than 75% of these fractures occurred indoors. Sixty percent of outdoor fractures occurred from May through October and not in the slippery winter months.

The most common cause of both indoor and outdoor hip fractures was tripping over an obstacle. Indoors, the obstacle cited most frequently was throw rugs. In second place for indoor falls was falling out of bed. Other causes of outdoor falls included being struck by a vehicle or falling from a vehicle followed by accidents on stairs.

The study cited above was scheduled for presentation October 23, 2017 at the annual meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists in Boston.

The CDC notes that “Health care providers can play an important role in fall prevention by screening older adults for fall risk, reviewing and managing medications linked to falls, and recommending vitamin D supplements to improve bone, muscle, and nerve health and reduce the risk for falls.”

A check of your hospital’s trauma registry may validate the findings above, or you may find that your patient population has a different fall season. If you have an active Injury Prevention Program aimed at falls, it might be time to look to your data and determine the risk factors associated with the time of year your patients are falling. You may need to collect more detailed information to determine the cause of the majority of your falls, as ICD-10 does not have a specific code for falls due to tripping over a throw rug as a mechanism of injury. Then armed with specific information about your hospital’s most frequent fall method you can tailor your injury prevention program to cover your most common causes.

Susan Schmunk, CSTR, CAISS

(2017). Ditch the Throw Rugs, Seniors. Retrieved from https://consumer.healthday.com/senior-citizen-information-31/fall-health-news-748/ditch-the-throw-rugs-seniors-727644.html

Hip Fractures Among older Adults. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/HomeandRecreationalSafety/Falls/adulthipfx.html