Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2021) Falls., AIHW, Australian Government, accessed 25 January 2022
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2021). Falls. Retrieved from https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/injury/falls
Falls. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 09 December 2021, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/injury/falls
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Falls [Internet]. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2021 [cited 2022 Jan. 25]. Available from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/injury/falls
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2021, Falls, viewed 25 January 2022, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/injury/falls
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Falls are Australia’s largest contributor to hospitalised injuries and a leading cause of injury deaths. In 2018–19, 43% of hospitalised injuries and 39% of injury deaths were due to falls.
Falls can happen to anyone at any location, but falls requiring hospitalisation are more common in older people and are most likely to occur in the home.
Over half of fall injury hospitalisations involve a fracture.
In 2018–19, falls resulted in:
920 per 100,000 population
21.2 per 100,000 population
This page summarises data on unintentional falls. Intentional injuries and deaths are included under Assualt and homicide or Self-harm and suicide.
Rate (per 100,000)
Slipping, tripping or stumbling on same level (W01)
Other fall on same level (W18)
Fall on or from stairs or steps (W10)
Fall involving furniture (including bed and chair) (W06–08)
Fall involving playground equipment (W09)
Fall involving ice-skates, skis, roller-skates or skateboards (W02)
Other fall on same level due to collision with, or pushing by, another person (W03)
Other specified types of falls (W00, W04–05, W12–17)
Unspecified fall (W19)
1. Rates are crude per 100,000 population, calculated using estimated resident population as at 31 December of the relevant year.
2. Percentages may not total 100 due to rounding.
3. Codes in brackets refer to the ICD-10-AM (10th edition) external cause codes (ACCD 2017).
Source: AIHW National Hospital Morbidity Database.
For more detail, see Data tables B11–12.
The age-standardised rate of hospitalisations due to falls in 2018–19 was 1.2% higher than the previous year. Over the period from 2009–10 to 2016–17 there was an average annual increase of 2.0%.
There is a break in the time series for hospitalisations between 2016–17 and 2017–18, due to a change in data collection methods (see the Technical notes for details).
For deaths due to falls, the average annual increase in rate between 2009–10 and 2018–19 was 1.8% (Figure 1).
The visualisation features 2 matching line graphs on separate tabs, 1 for hospitalisations and 1 for deaths. The 3 lines represent the trend for males, females and persons from 2009–10 to 2018–19 . The reader can select to display rate per 100,000 population or number.
For more detail, see Data tables C1–6 and E1–4.
Falls were one of the few causes of injury where females outnumbered males, both for hospitalisations and deaths.
People aged 65 and over were more likely to be hospitalised or die due to a fall compared with other life-stages (Figure 2).
For falls in 2018–19:
The visualisation features 2 matching column graphs on separate tabs, 1 for hospitalisations and 1 for deaths. The columns represent sex within 6 life-stage age groups. The reader can select to display either age-specific rate per 100,000 population or number. The default displays males and females and the reader can also select to display persons.
The very oldest are most at risk of a serious fall injury. There was a rate of 16,600 hospitaliations per 100,000 for people aged 95 and over—see Data tables A1–3 for 5-year age bands.
Different age groups tend to engage in different activities, leading to a different pattern of fall types for each age group. For hospitalised falls in 2018–19:
1. Percentages may not total 100 due to rounding.
2. Codes in brackets refer to the ICD-10-AM (10th edition) external cause codes (ACCD 2017).
For more detail, see data tables B12–13.
There are many ways that the severity, or seriousness, of an injury could be assessed. Using the available data, three measures of the severity of hospitalised injuries are:
The average number of days in hospital for falls was longer than for all hospitalised injuries in 2018–19. The percentage of falls that included time in ICU was lower than for all hospitalised injuries. The percentage requiring continuous ventilatory support was higher (Table 3).
Injuries due to falls
Average number of days in hospital
% of cases with time in intensive care
% of cases involving continuous ventilatory support
Note: Average number of days in hospital (length of stay) includes admissions that are transfers from 1 hospital to another or transfers from 1 admitted care type to another within the same hospital, except where care involves rehabilitation procedures.
For more detail, see Data tables A12 and A13.
In 2018–19, the head and neck were the body parts most often identified as the principal site of injury in fall hospitalisations (Figure 3). In part, this may reflect the inherently serious nature of head and neck injuries.
Note: Body part refers to the principal reason for hospitalisation. Number and percentage of injuries classified as Other, multiple and incompletely specified body regions or Injuries not described in terms of body region not shown—see Data table A11.
Fractures were the most common type of injury sustained for both males and females who were hospitalised due to a fall (Figure 4).
Bar graph showing type of injury sustained by category and by sex. Fracture was the most common for both males and females, followed by open wound. The reader can select to display either the crude rate per 100,000 population or the number of cases. The default display shows data for males and females, and the reader can also select to display for persons.
For more detail, see Data tables A10 and A11.
Some variation is apparent between sexes in the type of injury sustained from hospitalised falls. Fractures and superficial injuries were more common for females than males. Dislocation, soft tissue, open wound, intracranial, and internal organ or vessel of trunk injuries were more common for males than females.
There is also variation in the body part injured. Hip and lower limb injuries, and shoulder and upper limb injuries were more common for females than males. Head and neck, and wrist and hand injuries were more common in males than females.
In 2018–19, among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people:
Rate (per 100,000)
Note: Rates are crude per 100,000 population.
1. Rates are crude per 100,000 population.
2. Deaths data only includes data for New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, and the Northern Territory.
Source: AIHW National Mortality Database.
For more detail, see Data tables A4–5 and D4–5.
In 2018–19, Indigenous Australians were 1.3 times as likely as other Australians to be hospitalised due to a fall injury, after adusting for differences in population age (Table 6). This trend was reversed for deaths, where non-Indigenous Australians were 1.3 times as likely to die due to a fall than Indigenous Australians, although readers are advised to use these data with caution due to low numbers (Table 7).
1. Rates are age-standardised to the 2001 Australian population (per 100,000).
2. ‘Non-Indigenous Australians’ excludes cases where Indigenous status is missing or not stated.
3. Deaths data only includes data for New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, and the Northern Territory.
For more detail, see Data table A6 and D6.
The age-specific rate of falls hospitalisations was highest among the 65 and over life-stage age group for both Indigenous and other Australians (Figure 5). Deaths data are not presented because of small numbers.
Column graph representing hospitalisation data for Indigenous and other Australians by 6 life-stage age groups. The reader can select to display age-specific rate per 100,000 population or number. The reader can also select to display data for persons, males or females.
For more detail, see Data tables A4–A6 and D4–D6.
Hospitalisations due to falls showed a slight variation from most other causes of injury when examined by remoteness. For the majority of causes, the most remote areas had the highest rates and the least remote areas had the lowest rates. For falls, while the highest rate continues to be the most remote areas, the lowest rate was in Inner regional areas.
In 2018–19, people living in Very remote areas were 1.4 times as likely to be hospitalised due to a fall as people living in Inner regional areas (Table 8).
The pattern of falls deaths according to remoteness of usual residence was also different to that of most other causes of injury. In 2018–19, people living in Outer regional areas areas had the highest rate and were 1.1 times as likely to die due to a fall than people living in Major cities (Table 9).
Note: Rates are age-standardised per 100,000 population.
n.p. not publishable because of small numbers, confidentiality or other concerns about the quality of the data.
For more detail, see Data tables A9 and D9.
The highest age-specific rate of fall injury hospitalisations was among the 65 and over age group living in Major cities (Figure 6).
Deaths data are not presented here because of small numbers.
Column graph representing hospitalisation data for each of the 5 remoteness categories by 6 life-stage age groups. The reader can select to display age-specific rate per 100,000 population or number. The reader can also select to display data for persons, males or females.
For more detail, see Data tables A7–A9 and D9–10.
For information on how statistics by remoteness are calculated, see the Technical notes.
Defining injury hospitalisations and deaths: how injuries were counted
Technical notes: read about how the data were calculated.
Data tables: download full data tables.
ACCD (Australian Consortium for Classification Development) 2017. The international statistical classification of diseases and related health problems, 10th revision, Australian modification (ICD-10-AM), 10th edn. Tabular list of diseases and alphabetic index of diseases. Adelaide: Independent Hospital Pricing Authority (IHPA), Lane Publishing.
The following are publications from recent years that include information on falls. See Reports for any older publications that may exist.
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