Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Public Health

Mortality and Morbidity Related to Injuries from Falls in British Columbia

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Public Health

Mortality and Morbidity Related to Injuries from Falls in British Columbia

Article excerpt


Falls are a major health problem for persons aged 65 years and over. This study examined differences in patterns of fallrelated injuries and deaths between age groups, sexes, and among Health Regions of BC. For those under the age of 65 years, fallrelated injuries are highest among males, whereas for those 65 and over, falls among females exceed those among males by 2:1. For persons aged 65 and over, 84% of hospital days for unintentional injuries involve falls, with transportation and "other" unintentional injuries contributing 16%. While older women are hospitalized more often for fall-related injuries, more older men die from fall-related injuries. Hospitalization rates due to injuries from falls are highest in the Northern Regions of BC. Policy implications of the findings are discussed.


Les chutes constituent un probleme de sang important chez les personnel de 65 ans et plus. L'etude examine les differences dans les types de blessures et de decks a la suite d'une chute par grouper d'age, par sexes et par regions sanitaires de la ColombieBritannique. Chez les personnel de moins de 65 ans, le pourcentage des blessures a la suite d'une chute est le plus eleve chez les hommes alors que parmi les personnel de 65 ans et plus, les chutes chez les femmes sont le double de Belles des hommes. Pour les personnes agees de 65 ans et plus, 84 % des journees d'hospitalisation pour une blessure involontaire sont associees a des chutes, les << autres >> blessures involontaires et celles associees aux deplacements constituant les 16 % qui restent. Alors que les femmes agees sont plus souvent hospitalisees pour des blessures Gees a une chute, un plus grand nombre d'hommes ages decedent des suites de blessures liees A une chute. Le taux d'hospitalisation a la suite d'une chute est le plus eleve dans les regions du nord de la Colombie-Bri tan nique. On discute egalement les consequences de ces resultats sur la politique.

Falling is an important health problem among older people. Approximately 30% of community-dwelling Canadians aged 65 years and older experience at least one fall each year and about 25% of those who fall suffer moderate to severe injuries.',` For long-term care residents the annual rate of having one or more falls is 50%, with at least 5% resulting in fractures and 10% in other serious injuries.' These injury rates represent considerable costs in terms of human suffering and health care expenses.

The estimated cost to Canadians in 1994 for fall-related injuries among persons 65 years and older was $2.8 billion.4 This figure includes direct costs of institutional expenditures and professional services, and indirect costs of lost productivity due to premature mortality and disability, It does not include additional expenses such as the cost of medications for fallrelated injuries, negligence claims or the work of nonprofessional caregivers.

Most studies show the etiology of a fall to be a complex combination of factors that reflect physical, cognitive, behavioural and social conditions operating alone, or in conjunction with, environmental hazards.1,5 There is evidence to suggest that some falls can be prevented through strategies such as the amelioration of underlying medical conditions, education on risks and prevention, exercise, and the removal of environmental hazards.6-8 However, more studies and better data collection systems are needed in order to determine the nature and scope of the problem and the effectiveness of different strategies.

This paper reports on a descriptive study of morbidity and mortality patterns related to falls over a five-year period in BC. The purpose is to compare ages, sex, and regional differences among fallers, and to examine what proportion of all hospitalizations are those due to falls. Comparisons are also drawn between falls and other causes of "Unintentional" injury. A fall is defined according to the International Classification of Diseases - Ninth Revision (ICD-9 Codes) as an unexpected event wherein a person fell to the ground from an upper level or from the same level, including falls up stairs and falls onto a piece of furniture. …

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