BACKGROUND:: Fall incidents are a major cause of morbidity and mortality in older adults. The aim of this cohort study was to determine the incidence, costs, and quality of life for fall-related injuries in the older Dutch population presenting at the emergency department. METHODS:: Data on fall-related injuries in persons aged 65 years or older were retrieved from the Dutch Injury Surveillance System, which records injuries treated at the emergency department, and a patient follow-up survey conducted between 2003 and 2007. Injury incidence, discharge rates, healthcare costs, and quality of life measures were calculated. RESULTS:: Fall-related injuries were to the upper or lower limb in 70% of cases and consisted mainly of fractures (60%), superficial injuries (21%), and open wounds (8%). Falls led to a total healthcare cost of €474.4 million, which represents 21% of total healthcare expenses due to injuries. Both admitted and nonadmitted patients reported a reduced quality of life up to 9 months after the injury. CONCLUSIONS:: Fall-related injuries in older adults are age and gender related, leading to high healthcare consumption, costs, and long-term reduced quality of life. Further implementation of falls prevention strategies is needed to control the burden of fall-related injuries in the aging population.

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Surgery and Traumatology
Journal of Trauma, Injury, Infection, and Critical Care
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Hartholt, K., van Beeck, E., Polinder, S., van der Velde, N., van Lieshout, E., Panneman, M., … Patka, P. (2011). Societal consequences of falls in the older population: Injuries, healthcare costs, and long-term reduced quality of life. Journal of Trauma, Injury, Infection, and Critical Care, 71(3), 748–753. doi:10.1097/TA.0b013e3181f6f5e5