This report focuses on trends in hospitalised (serious) fall injury for people aged 65 and over that occurred over the period 2002–03 to 2014–15. Information is also presented on the hospital care provided.
Fall injury cases
An estimated 111,222 people aged 65 and over were hospitalised due to falls in 2014–15. Almost 3% of hospitalisations for people aged 65 and over were the result of a fall.
Women accounted for most of these fall injury cases, and rates of cases were higher for women than for men for all age groups aged 65 and over. Age-standardised rates of hospitalised fall injury cases increased over the period 2002–03 to 2014–15 for both men (rate of increase 3% per year) and women (2%).
Injuries to the Hip and thigh (24%) and Head (24%) were the most common types of injury resulting from a fall, for people aged 65 and over in 2014–15. Rates of head injury were particularly high in older Australians aged 85 and over. Fractures of the neck of the femur (also commonly called ‘hip fractures’) accounted for the majority of injuries to the Hip and thigh (73%). Rates of injury to the head more than doubled over the period 2002–03 to 2014–15 for both men and women. In 2002–03, the rates of Head injury among men and women were 319 and 336 cases per 100,000 population, respectively, compared with 706 and 731 cases per 100,000 in 2014–15.
The most common cause of fall injury cases for those aged 65 and over in 2014–15 was Fall on the same level from slipping, tripping and stumbling (34%). Falls from household objects (15% combined)—such as Beds (4,688 cases); Chairs (3,228 cases), Stairs and steps (7,042 cases); and Ladders (1,989 cases)—comprised the next largest proportion of cases.
Around 85% of fall injury cases in 2014–15 were recorded as having occurred in either the home or in residential aged care. The age-standardised rate of falls in the home for older people living in the community was 1,814 per 100,000 population, while the rate of falls for older people living in residential aged care was 10,090 per 100,000 population. These rates are likely to be underestimated because of missing information on the places in which falls occurred.
Hospital care attributable to fall injury
In addition to the initial hospitalisations for these fall injury cases, there were more than 50,000 other fall-related hospital episodes (mainly for rehabilitation care) for people aged 65 and over in 2014–15. Taken together with the initial hospitalisation for a fall, there were
1.5 million days of patient care over the year, with the average total length of stay per fall injury case estimated to be 13 days. Overall, 1 in every 10 days spent in hospital by a person aged 65 and over in 2014–15 was attributable to an injurious fall. The days of patient care attributable to fall-related injury rose from 0.8 million patient days in 2002–03 to 1.4 million patient days in 2014–15.