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Falls Common Cause Of Seniors' ER Visits

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Each year, more than two million American seniors are treated in hospital emergency departments for injuries caused by falls, finds a federal government report.

In 2006, treatment for head wounds, broken bones, cuts and other fall-related injuries suffered by seniors cost hospitals about $7 billion for emergency and subsequent inpatient care, according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Among the other findings from the analysis of hospital emergency department data:

Falls accounted for 10 percent of emergency department visits by seniors. Fall-related visits increase with age. One in 10 men and one in seven women over age 85 have an emergency department visit for treatment of fall-related injuries.
Of the seniors treated at emergency departments for fall-related injuries, 41 percent had fractures, primarily of an upper extremity or hip. Other common fall-related injuries are open wounds (21 percent), sprains and strains (10 percent), internal organ injuries (five percent), and joint dislocations (1.5 percent).
Hospitalization was required for 63 percent of patients with internal organ injuries and 51 percent of those with fractures. About 41 percent of patients with fractures and 33 percent of those with internal organ injuries were transferred to a nursing home or other type of long-term care facility.

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