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The overall rate of injuries resulting in hospital stays rose over recent years, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Trends in hospitalised injury, Australia 1999-00 to 2010-11, looks at injury due to a diverse range of external causes, from assault and exposure to fire, smoke and heat, to falls, transport accidents, poisoning and drowning.

AIHW spokesperson Professor James Harrison said the number of cases of hospitalised injury that occurred per 1,000 population rose by about 1% per year between 1999-00 and 2010-11. The annual number of cases rose from 327,000 to 438,000 over the same 12-year period.

The rate of cases involving poisoning by pharmaceuticals fell by 5% per year and the rate for poisoning by other substances fell by 4% per year over the 1999-00 to 2011-12 period.

The rate of hospitalised drowning and near drowning cases fell by 1% per year overall, and by 3% per year for children aged 0-4. 

'However, there were increases in rates of hospitalised injury due to falls, by 2% per year, and intentional self-harm, by 1% per year,' Professor Harrison said.

'Falls make up a large proportion of all hospitalised injury, so rising rates for this cause has a strong effect on the overall trend.'

In 2010­-11, injury hospitalisations were more common among males than females for all age groups except for people aged 65 and over, where the reverse was true.

'The 25 to 44 age range accounted for 29% of injury hospitalisations for males and 18% for females in 2010-11,' Professor Harrison said.

'Two of the main causes of injury in 2010-11 were falls, at 39% of cases, and transport accidents, at 12%, followed by intentional self-harm at almost 6% and assault at 5%. 

'More than 170,000 people were hospitalised as a result of a fall in 2010-11, with 53% of the cases occurring at the age of 65 and over.'

Professor Harrison said there were about 53,000 transport injury cases during 2010-11, with twice as many males as females hospitalised.

The report shows injury hospitalisation rates for Indigenous people were twice those of other Australians. 

Rates were also consistently higher for residents of Very remote and Remote areas than for other areas, and were lowest for those living in Major cities.  

The average length of stay in hospital because of an injury was 4 days, and 8 days for people aged 65 and over.

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, 21 August 2013 

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

Full publication: Trends in hospitalised injury, Australia 1999-00 to 2010-11