Falls are the leading cause of unintentional injury for Queenslanders aged 65 years and over and the cost of falls and falls injury is significant. Older people are at greatest risk of sustaining an injury from a fall. At least one in four older people have a fall each year. Over 40 % have multiple falls and over 30 % of those who fall require medical attention as a result 214. The rate of falls is even higher for older people living in residential care 73.
Falls statistics help us understand how many falls occur, how common falls are in Queensland, and the impact that falls and falls injuries have across the continuum of health care in Queensland. Detailed falls statistics taken from a range of reliable international, national and state data sources are available on each of the topics below.
Queensland falls statistics
|Falls-related ambulance attendances for Queenslanders aged 65 years and over, 2007-08
- Queensland Ambulance Service provided 22,744 attendances to adults aged 65 years and older who had fallen, with more attendances in the cooler months (May to July). The rate of attendance increased with age, with the highest rate being for adults aged 85 years and over.
- Most attendances were inside private residences (56%), followed by nursing homes (24%).
|Fall-related emergency department presentations for older Queenslanders, 2007-08
- A total of 1,118 fall-related presentations were recorded for adults aged 65 years and over, with five times that number likely to have presented statewide.
- The rate of fall-related presentations increased with age.
- More females presented across all age groups.
- Most falls occurred at home (58%) or in residential aged-care facilities (10%).
- Most falls were a slip or trip on the same level (40%), while there were also falls from less than one metre (13%) and falls caused by stumbling on same level (12%).
- Injuries following a fall were to the head (15%), hip (11%) and forearm (9%)
- Fractures were the most common type of fall-related injury (30%).
- Most cases were triaged as Category 4 'semi urgent' (47%) or Category 3 'urgent' (42%).
- Most presentations were discharged following treatment in the ED (68%), however 27% were admitted to hospital for further treatment.
|Rate and cost of hospital admissions due to fall-related injuries among older Queenslanders, 2007-08
- There were 13,028 admissions to public and private hospitals in Queensland due to fall-related injuries among people aged 65 years and over. The majority of public hospital admissions came via the emergency department (83%).
- Expenditure on hospital admitted patient services due to fall-related injuries among people aged 65 years and over was estimated to be $106.0 million - almost 70% was spent on treating women and more than 40% on treating those aged 85 years and over.
- Hip fractures were the most frequent type of fall-related injury. 3,572 people aged 65 years (around ten people every day) were admitted with a hip fracture. At an average cost of $15,046 per episode, hip fractures accounted for around 50% of the total estimated expenditure for all fall-related admissions.
|Fall-related clinical incidents reported in Queensland Health facilities, 2007-08
- There were 11,928 fall-related clinical incidents, with 14 incidents resulting in death or serious and permanent patient harm and 322 incidents resulting in temporary loss of function. Around two-thirds of the remaining incidents resulted in no harm. The greatest prevalence of fall incidents was among adults aged 80-89 years of age.
- Most reported falls occurred in acute hospital or multipurpose facilities (73%) or residential aged care facilities (RACF) (22%). Most reported falls were not witnessed by staff (80%) and occurred during walking or sitting to standing activities. Most reported falls in hospital occurred in bathroom or bedside areas, while most reported falls in RACF occurred in communal or bedroom areas.
|Falls resulting in injury in Queensland Hospital Admitted Patient Data, 2007-08 (public and private hospitals)
- Queensland public and private hospitals reported 2,205 falls resulting in injury among patients aged over 65 years (80%). This is a rate of 0.79 in-hospital falls in this age group per 1,000 patient days.
- Most of these in-hospital falls resulted in non-fracture injuries (84%) while around 16% resulted in a fracture.
|Cost of hospitalisations due to fall-related injuries among people aged 65 years and over in Queensland, 2006-07 to 2008-09
- Admissions to Queensland public and private hospitals due to fall-related injuries among people aged 65 years and over increased by almost 7% per annum between 2006-07 (12,398 admissions) and 2008-09 (14,168 admissions).
- Expenditure on hospital admitted patient services due to fall-related injuries among people aged 65 years and over was estimated to be $118.9 million in 2008-09 - an annual rise of around 11% since 2006-07.
- Hip fractures were the most frequent type of fall-related injury, and accounted for almost 50% of the estimated expenditure for all fall-related admissions.
- Almost 70% of the estimated expenditure for all fall-related admissions was spent on treating women and more than 40% on treating those aged 85 years and over.
|Falls-related deaths in Queensland, 2007
- 493 Queensland residents died due to an unintentional fall
- People aged 65 years and over accounted for nearly 95% of the total fall-related deaths, with the highest fall-related mortality rate among persons aged 85 years and over
|Queensland Trauma Registry falls reports on fall related injuries and outcomes of older Queenslanders admitted to a public hospital for 24 hours or more
- 2007-08, summary of falls related injury for older Queenslanders
- 2005-06 to 2007-08, trends in falls related injury for older Queenslanders
- 2005-06 to 2007-08, trends in falls related injury for Queenslanders aged 40 to 64 years.
The total cost of hospitalisations due to fall-related injuries among people aged 65 years and over in Queensland is projected to double to over $240 million by 2015, based on projected estimates of cost, population growth and the rate of falls-related admissions.
- it is projected that one in four Queenslanders will be aged 65 years or older
- the number of hip fractures among older Australians is expected to increase fourfold, based on current incidence rates 216
- more than 500 additional hospital beds and 850 residential aged care places will be needed as a result of falls in older people [Moller, 2003 3].
Unless effective preventative strategies are put in place, the cost of care and services associated with fall related injury in older people will absorb a significant proportion of the increased spending on the health of older people 3.