Home accidents in elderly patients presenting to an emergency department

Accid Emerg Nurs. 1999 Apr;7(2):96-102. doi: 10.1016/s0965-2302(99)80029-0.


A prospective study was carried out in an Accident and Emergency department (A&E) to (1) examine the pattern of home accidents in elderly patients presenting to the A&E; (2) determine the nature and mechanisms of the accidents; and (3) investigate the associated factors in these accidents. All patients aged 65 or above with a history of injury at home within one week were included. Patients who needed immediate resuscitation and patients with mental illness or violent behaviour were excluded. A convenient sample was chosen during an 8-week period. A standardized questionnaire was used to collect data on (1) demographics; (2) nature of the accident and injury; and (3) health status. Health status assessment involved three components: physical status, drug history and past health. A total of 100 subjects were included giving an average occurrence of 3.3 cases per shift. The mean age of the group was 75 with female patients (66) outnumbering the males by about two to one. The toilet was the most common site (29%) of home accident, followed by the sitting room (18%), the kitchen (14%), the bedroom (11%) and the dining room (10%). In 79 cases the patient was alone at home during the accident. Falls were the most common (75%) type of accident. The remaining 25% of injuries were categorized as sharps injury (8%), foreign body ingestion (6%), crush injury (4%), burns/scald (3%), hit by/onto fallen objects (3%) and finally, electric shock (1%). Eighteen fractures were recorded. Thirty-two patients were admitted, 16 to the surgical ward and 16 to the orthopedic ward. In the functional assessment only 34 patients could perform the get-up-and-go test satisfactorily and only 61 patients had good hand grasp. Visual and hearing impairment were common. Over 45% of the patients had more than one disease and the majority of patients (80) were taking some medication. The roles of A&E staff in the prevention of home accidents in the elderly are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Home / prevention & control
  • Accidents, Home / statistics & numerical data*
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Emergency Medical Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Hong Kong
  • Hospitals, General / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Wounds and Injuries / etiology*