Falls most common cause of hospitalised injury—with numbers rising

More Australians are being hospitalised for injuries, with falls and transport crashes remaining the leading cause of injuries, according to a new report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Trends in hospitalised injury, Australia 1999–00 to 2014–15, shows falls account for almost half (41%) of all hospitalised injuries, followed by transport crashes (12%).  

‘The number of hospitalised injury cases rose from 327,000 in 1999–00 to 480,000 in 2014–15,’ said spokesperson Professor James Harrison from the AIHW's National Injury Surveillance Unit, based at Flinders University.

‘This equated to 1 person requiring hospitalisation in every 58 Australians in 1999–00, rising to about 1 in 50 in 2014–15’.

After adjusting for changes in the population structure, this is an average rate increase of about 1% per year.

The report found the number of hospitalisations for accidental poisoning and assault had fallen over this period. Whereas hospitalisations for falls, exposure to mechanical forces and intentional self-harm have risen.

Over the same period, the average length of stay in hospital due to injury has remained constant at 4 days. This equates to more than 1.7 million hospital days for the 480,000 cases in 2014–15. Females had a greater length of stay than males (4 days compared with 3 days) in 2014–15.

Men and boys made up the majority (55%) of injuries in 2014–15. The greatest number of injury cases for males occurred at age 20-24, while the greatest number of injury cases for females occurred at age 85-89 in 2014-15. Despite this wide age range, falls are the most common cause of hospitalised injury in both men (32%) and women (52%).

‘Overall, people aged 65 or over accounted for 30% of injury cases, with the majority of these being for falls,’ Professor Harrison said.

People living in remote areas of Australia required hospitalisation for injury at twice the rate of those living in major cities – with 1 in 27 people living in very remote areas requiring hospitalisation compared to 1 in 54 in major cities.

‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are also twice as likely as non-Indigenous Australians to be hospitalised for injury,’ Professor Harrison said.

As part of today’s release, the AIHW has also new information on other injury topics. These reports, Eye injuries Australia 2012–2015, Spinal cord injury Australia 2014–15, and Trends in hospitalised injury due to falls in older Australians 2002–03 to 2014–15 can be accessed through the AIHW website.

Further information: Professor James Harrison, mob. 0405 031 467