The report focuses on hospitalised falls occurring in the financial year 2007–08 and includes estimates of the cost to the hospital system due to serious falls.
Falls in 2007–08
The estimated number of hospitalised injury cases due to falls in people aged 65 and over was 74,400 in 2007–08, nearly 3,000 more cases than identified in 2006–07. However, the age-standardised rate of fall injury cases for older people (2,516 per 100,000 population) was about the same as in 2006–07 (2,503 per 100,000).
As in the previous reports in this series, females accounted for most of the hospitalised fall injury cases and rates of fall cases were higher for females than for males in all age groups.
About one-third of fall injury cases had injuries to the hip and thigh, and most of those injuries were hip fractures. Head injuries accounted for about one in five cases and were more common for males than females.
Circumstances of falls
As in previous years, a fall on the same level due to slipping, tripping and stumbling was the most common cause of a hospitalised fall.
The home was the most common place of occurrence for serious falls in 2007–08, followed by aged care facilities. Together, these places accounted for 70% of hospitalised falls. As in 2006–07, older people who lived in aged care facilities had a rate of falls five times as high as that for people of the same age who lived in the community and fell in their home.
Hospital care related to falls included both the first episode of hospital care for a fall injury case (i.e. care for an acute injury), inter-hospital transfers (n = 9,076) and further episodes of care that can be described as 'follow-up care'. Nearly 25,000 episodes of follow-up care were identified for people aged 65 and older in 2007–08.
A further 40,700 hospital separations in 2007–08 contained coding indicative of a fall (either both an injury additional diagnosis and a fall external cause or the diagnosis R29.6 (tendency to fall, not elsewhere classified) within the record.
Episodes of hospital care directly attributable to an injurious fall used 1.2 million patient days in 2007–08 and the average total length of stay per fall injury case was estimated to be 16.0 days.
Acute episodes of hospital care directly attributable to fall injuries in 2007–08 were estimated to have cost more than $648 million. This estimate is nearly $50 million higher than that estimated for 2006–07.
Acute care for injuries to the hip and thigh was estimated to have cost more than $323 million in 2007–08, half of the total cost to the hospital system due to fall injury in this year.