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Unintentional falls continue to be the leading cause of injuries requiring hospitalisation in Australia, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Hospital separations due to injury and poisoning: Australia 2009-10 shows that there were about 420,000 injury cases requiring hospitalisation in Australia during 2009-10, an age-standardised rate of 1,858 cases per 100,000 people. This is similar to the rate recorded in 2008-09 (1,865 cases per 100,000 people), but an increase on the rate in 1999-2000 (1,724 cases per 100,000 people).

'Of the 420,000 hospitalised injuries in 2009-10, 38% of these were due to falls, the same proportion as in 2008-09,' said AIHW spokesperson Professor James Harrison.

More females were hospitalised due to falls than males (90,100 cases compared with 71,000 cases). Overall, however, more than half of all hospitalised injury cases-around 242,500-involved men.

The second most common cause of hospitalised injury was transport accidents, accounting for 13% of cases. More than twice as many males as females were hospitalised for a transport injury (37,100 compared with 17,000). The rate was highest for both males and females in the 15-19 years age group.

Among very young children (aged 0-4 years), the leading cause for injury hospitalisation was a fall (42%), while smoke, fire, heat and hot substances accounted for 8% and poisoning by pharmaceuticals accounted for 6%. For older children (5-14 years), 46% of injury hospitalisations were the result of a fall and 16% were transport-related.

The most common causes of injury hospitalisation for young adults aged 15-24 years were transport-related injuries (19%), falls (14%), assault (11%) and intentional self-harm (10%). A similar pattern was seen in adults aged 25-44 years, where transport-related injury hospitalisation accounted for 17%, falls 14% and 11% each for self-harm and assault.

Falls (32%) were the leading cause of injury hospitalisations for adults aged 45-64, and 14% were transport-related. More than three-quarters (76%) of injury hospitalisations for people aged 65 and over occurred as a result of a fall.

'Of all hospitalised injuries, 26% occurred in the home. Females were more likely to be injured in the home, while males were more likely to have been injured on a street or highway,' Professor Harrison said.

Rates of injury increased with geographical remoteness. The lowest rate of 1,728 cases per 100,000 population occurred in Major cities in Australia, while the highest (3,857 cases per 100,000 population) occurred in Very remote Australia.

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.

Canberra, 30 November 2012

Further information: Professor James Harrison, AIHW, tel. 08 8201 7602, mob. 0405 031 467

Full publication: Hospital separations due to injury and poisoning: Australia 2009-10