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HSR&D Citation Abstract

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Choi NG, Choi BY, DiNitto DM, Marti CN, Kunik ME. Fall-related emergency department visits and hospitalizations among community-dwelling older adults: examination of health problems and injury characteristics. BMC geriatrics. 2019 Nov 11; 19(1):303.
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Abstract: BACKGROUND: Fall injuries and related healthcare use among older adults are increasing in the United States. This study examined chronic illnesses, sensory and memory problems, and injury characteristics that were associated with ED visits and hospitalizations among older adults who received medical attention for fall injuries within a 91-day reference period. METHODS: Data were from the publicly available 2013-2017 US National Health Interview Survey files (unweighted N? = 1840 respondents aged > 60?years with fall injuries). We first described socioeconomic, health/mental health, healthcare utilization, and injury characteristics among three groups: those who neither visited an ED nor were hospitalized for their fall injury, those who visited an ED only, and those who were hospitalized. Then, using multinomial logistic regression analysis, we examined associations of healthcare utilization (ED visit only and hospitalization vs. no ED visit/hospitalization) with chronic illnesses, other health problems, and injury characteristics, controlling for socioeconomic factors. RESULTS: Of older adults who received medical attention for fall injuries, a little more than one-third had an ED visit only and a little less than a fifth had an overnight hospital stay. Multivariable analysis showed that lung disease and memory problems were associated with higher risk of ED visit only; hip and head injuries, facial injuries, and broken bones/fractures (from any type of injury) were more likely to result in hospitalization than other injuries. Fall injuries sustained inside the home, falls from loss of balance/dizziness, and living alone were also more likely to result in hospitalization. CONCLUSIONS: These healthcare utilization findings indicate the significant toll that fall injuries exact on older adults and healthcare systems. Fall prevention should target risk factors that are specific to serious injuries requiring costly care. Strategies for implementing scalable, adaptable, and measurable fall prevention models by primary care and emergency medical service providers and ED staff are needed.

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