Objective: The aim of this study was to examine the epidemiology and health system cost of children's falls resulting in hospitalisation in 2003 in Western Australia.
Methods: The Injury Cost Database was used to identify children who were admitted to hospital with a falls related injury. Adjusted incidence rate ratios (IRR) of hospitalisation were modelled using Poisson regression. In-patient hospital costs were assigned using the published DRG costs for Western Australia. These costs were then extrapolated to health system costs based on previously published relative proportions.
Results: When adjusted for other covariates in the model males had a 53% higher incidence of falls requiring hospitalisation compared with females. Aboriginal children had a 36% higher incidence compared with their non-Aboriginal counterparts, and the incidence of falls reduced with increasing age. The total cost of in-patient hospitalisation associated with children's falls in Western Australia was A$4,554,000 with an average cost of A$1876 per case. In children aged 0-4 years and 10-14 years the highest cost resulted from falls on the flat (slips and trips). However, in children aged 5-9 years injuries resulting from falls from playground equipment resulted in both the highest cost group (A$539,000) and the highest cost per case (A$1917). The total cost to the health system of children's falls in Western Australia in 2003 were estimated to be A$21.5 million, with the total cost to the community estimated at A$108.5 million.
Conclusion: Children's falls impose a considerable burden and cost to both the health care system and the community. This study has provided information on where the burden of risk and the majority of costs lie, namely males, Aboriginal children and for children aged 5-9 years, unlike their younger and older peers, playground equipment.