This report is the third in a series of reports on hospitalisations due to falls by older people in Australia. The report focuses on hospitalised falls that occurred in the financial year 2006–07 and examines trends in fall-related hospitalisations over the period 1999–2007.

Hospitalised falls 2006–07

  • The estimated number of hospitalised injury cases due to falls in people aged 65 and over was 71,750, nearly 5,000 more cases than identified in 2005–06.
  • The age-standardised rate of fall injury cases for older people (2,503 per 100,000 population) also rose compared with that for 2005–06 (2,415 per 100,000).
  • As in previous reports, females accounted for most of the hospitalised fall injury cases and a third of all cases had injuries to the hip and thigh.
  • A fall on the same level, due to slipping, tripping and stumbling, was the most common cause of a hospitalised fall.
  • The home was the most common place of occurrence for serious falls, followed by aged care facilities. Together, these places accounted for 70% of hospitalised falls. Older people who lived in aged care facilities had a rate of falls five times as high as that for people of the same age who lived in the community and fell in their home.
  • Episodes of hospital care that were directly attributable to injuries due to falls accounted for nearly 1.2 million patient days in 2006–07. The average total length of stay per fall injury case was estimated to be 16.3 days.
  • Acute episodes of hospital care attributable to fall injuries in 2006–07 were estimated to have cost more than $600 million.

Trends in hospitalised fall-related injury 1999–2007

  • This analysis confirms the work presented in the previous edition of this series; age-standardised rates of hospitalised fall-related injury separations increased over the eight year study period to June 2007, despite a decrease in the rate for hip fractures due to falls.
  • Although lower overall, rates of falls involving males increased faster than those for females. Rates of hip fracture also increased for male residents of aged care facilities.
  • Falls resulting in head injuries increased substantially, as did falls described as 'other falls on the same level'. These observations may be pertinent to the future development of prevention interventions.

As discussed in the previous edition of this series, this report again demonstrates the weakness of commonly used methods for measuring the incidence of serious falls and associated hospital care from current administrative data. Better measurement, especially of trends, requires a method that takes account of all episodes of hospital care for a person who has suffered injuries due to a fall.