Emerg Med J 29:742-747 doi:10.1136/emermed-2011-200380
  • Original article

Older people presenting to the emergency department after a fall: a population with substantial recurrent healthcare use

  1. Ann Kelly3
  1. 1Falls and Balance Research Group, Neuroscience Research Australia, University of New South Wales, Randwick, Sydney, Australia
  2. 2Prince of Wales Clinical School, University of New South Wales, Randwick, Sydney, Australia
  3. 3Prince of Wales Hospital, Randwick, Sydney, Australia
  4. 4Global Health Outcomes, Eli Lilly and Company, Indianapolis, USA
  5. 5OptumInsight, HEOR & MAR, Uxbridge, UK
  1. Correspondence to Associate Professor Jacqueline Close, Neuroscience Research Australia, Barker Street, Randwick, NSW 2031, Australia; j.close{at}
  1. Contributors We attest that each named author in this manuscript has contributed to both the conception/design and/or analysis/interpretation of the project and the writing of the paper, each of us has approved the version submitted, and the content of this manuscript has not been published nor is being considered for publication elsewhere.

  • Accepted 20 August 2011
  • Published Online First 1 October 2011


Objectives To document patient characteristics, care pathways, healthcare use and costs of fall-related emergency department (ED) presentations by older adults.

Participants and methods All fallers aged ≥70 years, presenting to the ED of a 450-bed metropolitan university hospital in Sydney, Australia (1 April 2007 through 31 March 2009) were studied. Data were collected from the ED electronic information system, ED clinical records and the hospital electronic information system database. Population estimates for 2008 for the local areas served by the hospital were used to estimate ED presentation rates.

Results Of 18 902 all-cause ED presentations, 3220 (17.0%) were due to a fall. Among fallers, 35.4% had one or more ED presentations and 20.3% had had one or more hospital admissions in the preceding 12 months. Fall-related ED presentation led directly to hospital admission in 42.7% of the cases, the majority of which (78.0%) received acute care only (length of stay—14.4 days for men and 13.7 days for women) and the remaining cases underwent further inpatient rehabilitation (length of stay 35.6 days for men and 30.1 days for women). After hospitalisation, 9.5% of patients became first-time residents of long-term care facilities. All fall-related ED presentations and hospitalisations cost a total of A$11 241 387 over the study period.

Conclusions Older fallers presenting to the ED consume significant healthcare resources and are an easily identifiable high-risk population. They may benefit from systematic fall-risk assessment and tailored fall-prevention interventions.


  • Funding This work was supported by Eli Lilly and Company.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval Ethics approval was provided by South East Sydney and Illawarra Area Health Service (Northern Network) Human Research Ethics Committee.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

Relevant Article

Free sample
This recent issue is free to all users to allow everyone the opportunity to see the full scope and typical content of EMJ.
View free sample issue >>

Don't forget to sign up for content alerts so you keep up to date with all the articles as they are published.

Navigate This Article