This report aims to describe fractures as a type of injury morbidity in Australia and to present the findings in relation to the methods and priorities of public health injury prevention. Unit records for hospital separations during 2001-02 from nearly all hospitals in Australia were analysed.


  • In the year to 30 June 2002, at least one fracture was recorded as a diagnosis for 156,450 episodes of inpatient hospital care in Australia. These cases accounted for 888,460 bed-days.
  • The cases involving at least one fracture diagnosis accounted for 2% of all hospital episodes in 2001-02, and 36% of the episodes for which the Principal Diagnosis was an injury of any type.
  • A fall (54% of episodes) or a transport  accident (19%) were the most common types of event resulting in a hospitalised fracture.
  • Four case types accounted for 52% of all episodes in which a fracture was recorded and over 65% of bed-days due to fractures. These were:
    • Lower limb fracture due to a fall by a person aged 65+ years;
    • Upper limb or trunk fracture due to a fall by a person aged 65+ years;
    • Upper limb fracture due to a fall by a person aged 0-19 years, and;
    • Any fracture due to a transport accident at ages 5-54 years.
  • Fractures were the most common of all forms of hospitalised trauma.
  • Fractures sustained by older persons, particularly lower limb fractures attributed to falls, were common and accounted for a large number of bed- days. These are projected to increase in number.
  • Other events, notably transport accidents, were common causes of hospitalised fractures for young and middle aged adults.
  • Two of the four current injury prevention priority topics under the National Injury Prevention Plan refer to events for which fractures are the main type of trauma: falls by older persons and falls by children. Prevention programs are being developed and implemented, particularly for falls by older persons.