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released: 4 Mar 2009 author: AIHW National Injury Surveillance Unit media release

This report is the second in a series of biennial reports on hospitalisations due to falls by older people in Australia. The report focuses on hospitalised falls occurring in the financial year 2005-06 and examines trends in fall-related hospitalisations over the period 1999-2006. The number of fall events resulting in hospitalisation due to injury for older Australians remains high and the rate of fall-related injury incidents is particularly high for the oldest group within this population. As in the previous report, older females accounted for most of the hospitalised fall injury cases and a third of cases had injuries to the hip and thigh. Half of all fall injury cases for people aged 65 years and older occurred in the home. Falls in residential institutions were also common. Age-standardised rates of hospitalised fall-related injury separations have increased over the seven year study period to June 2006, despite a decrease in the rate for femur fractures due to falls. The estimated total length of stay per fall injury case has also increased over the period 1999-2006, apparently influenced by increases in the number of bed-days used by episodes of fall-related follow-up care.

ISSN 1444-3791; ISBN 978 1 74024 879 2; Cat. no. INJCAT 122; 56pp.; Internet only

Summary

This report is the second in a series of biennial reports on hospitalisations due to falls by older people in Australia. The report focuses on hospitalised falls occurring in the financial year 2005-06 and examines trends in fall-related hospitalisations over the period 1999-2006.

Hospitalised falls 2005–06

  • The estimated number of hospitalised injury cases due to falls in people aged 65 years and over was 66,800 - a rise of 10% since 2003-04.
  • The age-standardised rate of fall injury cases for older people (2,415 per 100,000 population) has also risen compared to 2003-04 (2,295 per 100,000).
  • As in the previous report, older females accounted for most of the hospitalised fall injury cases and a third of cases had injuries to the hip and thigh.
  • Similarly, a fall on the same level, due to slipping, tripping and stumbling, was the most common cause of a hospitalised fall.
  • Half of all fall injury cases for people aged 65 years and older occurred in the home. Falls in residential institutions were also common.
  • Older people who lived in aged care facilities were found to have 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.
  • The first episode of hospital care for a fall injury case (i.e. care for an acute injury) is frequently followed by further episodes of care that can be described as ‘follow-up care’.
  • Over 20,000 episodes of fall-related follow-up care were identified for people aged 65 years and older, an increase compared to 2003-04.

Trends in hospitalised fall-related injury 1999–2006

  • Age-standardised rates of hospitalised fall-related injury separations have increased over the seven year study period to June 2006, despite a decrease in the rate for femur fractures due to falls.
  • The estimated total length of stay per fall injury case has also increased, apparently influenced by increases in the number of bed-days used by episodes of fall-related follow-up care.
  • This report shows weakness in commonly used methods for measuring the incidence of serious falls and associated bed-day use from current administrative data. Better measurement, especially of trends, requires use of a method that takes account of all of the episodes of hospital care for a person who has had an injurious fall.

Recommended citation

AIHW National Injury Surveillance Unit 2009. Hospitalisations due to falls by older people, Australia 2005-06. Injury research and statistics series no. 50. Cat. no. INJCAT 122. Canberra: AIHW. Viewed 14 February 2016 <http://www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id=6442468218>.

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