Background Worldwide, the number of people aged over 60 is growing faster than any other age group. Increased age is associated with a higher risk of falling and roughly a third of individuals aged 65 and over experience a fall each year. One way in which ambulance services may impact the outcome of patients is the time taken for a response to arrive on scene. Lying on the floor for a long time has been found to be strongly associated with serious injuries, admission to hospital, and mortality. However, previous research has not assessed the impact of ambulance response times on mortality.
Methods To determine whether there is a relationship between the time elderly fallers (aged 65 and over) spend on the floor and mortality, an observational study was undertaken. A convenience sample of 503 ambulance response times, patient records detailing the amount of time spent on the floor, and patient outcomes at 90 days were analysed using logistic regression.
Results Eight percent of patients in the sample died within 90 days of their fall (n=38). Patients who were deceased at 90-day follow-up (n=38) did not wait significantly longer for an ambulance than patients who were still alive (n=464) (means= 34 min vs 37 min, p=.678).
Of the patients who were still on the floor upon LAS arrival (n=178), those who had died within 90 days following their fall (n=14) spent less time in total on the floor than patients who were still alive at 90-day follow-up (n=164) (means= 59 min vs 98 min, p=.296).
Conclusions Increased ambulance response time or prolonged time spent on the floor was not associated with 90-day mortality in elderly fallers who presented to the ambulance service. Whilst any delays in attending elderly fallers require monitoring, we can be reassured that long waits are not leading to mortality in this patient group.
- prehospital care
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