Falls hospitalise 120,000 a year

Australian hospitals treated more than 120,000 Australians with fall-related injuries during 1999-00-making it the leading cause of injury-related hospitalisation, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

More than 413,000 Australians were hospitalised for injury and poisoning during 1999-00, up from 404,000 in 1998-99.

Falls were the most common cause of injury, hospitalising 54,000 males and 66,000 females during 1999-00-a 4.7% increase on the previous year. This increase is mainly due to the growing number of people in the older age groups, who are at greatest risk of falls requiring hospitalisation.

Hospital Separations Due to Injury and Poisoning, Australia 1999-00 shows that the young (0-14 years) and the elderly (65 years and older) are the groups most at risk from falls injury-accounting for about 26,000 and 55,000 hospital separations respectively.

Other unintentional injuries and medical/surgical care complications followed as the second and third most common causes of injury, hospitalising 110,000 and 68,000 people respectively.

Report co-author, Yvonne Helps, from the AIHW's National Injury Surveillance Unit at Flinders University, said that shoulder and upper limb injuries were the injuries most commonly diagnosed and treated in both males and females.

Children aged 0-4 years, teenagers aged 15-19 years and adults aged over 80 years had the highest head injury rates.

'Males are more than twice as likely as females to be hospitalised with head injuries, across all age groups,' Mrs Helps said.

'Wrist and hand injuries were also very common, particularly among teenage boys right through to middle-aged men.'

Other findings of the report include:

  • Injuries leading to hospitalisation most often occur at home, and females were more likely to be injured in and around the home than males.
  • Males had almost three times the number of injuries occurring in sports or athletics areas than their female counterparts.
  • Injury and poisoning patients are hospitalised for four days on average.
  • Hospitalisations due to intentional self-harm made up about 5% of all injury and poisoning admissions.

16 October 2002


Further information: Mrs Yvonne Helps or Dr Raymond Cripps,
AIHW National Injury Surveillance Unit, tel. 08 8374 0970
For media copies of the report: Publications Officer, tel. 02 6244 1032