Cost-effectiveness analysis of screening for risk of in-hospital falls using physiotherapist clinical judgement

Med Care. 2009 Apr;47(4):448-56. doi: 10.1097/MLR.0b013e318190ccc0.


Introduction: Screening hospital patients for falls risk is now a contentious component of geriatric care despite its widespread clinical use. The economic implications of using a falls risk screening approach to deliver an effective falls prevention intervention have not previously been examined.

Methods: This was a multicenter prospective longitudinal cohort and incremental cost-effectiveness analysis.

Participants/setting: One thousand one hundred twenty-three geriatric inpatients from 17 rehabilitation units across Australia.

Measures: Physiotherapist accuracy in predicting patient who will fall was captured with the question "Will this patient experience one or more falls during their rehabilitation period?" Falls were measured using hospital incident reporting systems.

Procedure: The multicenter longitudinal cohort was undertaken to establish the predictive accuracy of physiotherapist clinical judgement. This data was used in the incremental cost-effectiveness analysis where estimates of the cost of falls and effectiveness of an intervention program were taken from previous research.

Results: The accuracy of physiotherapist clinical judgement in predicting falls was high relative to previous research (sensitivity = 0.61, specificity = 0.82, Youden index = 0.43). Selectively providing patient falls-prevention education using physiotherapist clinical judgement would reduce falls [2.2 (SD: 0.19) fallers per 100 inpatients reduction] and reduce resources spent on trying to prevent and treat injuries from in-hospital falls [$2704 AUD (SD: $432) per 100 inpatients reduction] compared with doing nothing. However, there was greater uncertainty as to whether the patient education intervention modeled should be provided selectively or universally.

Conclusions: Preventing in-hospital falls using a targeted falls prevention intervention approach utilizing physiotherapist clinical judgement was more cost-effective than a "no intervention" approach.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls* / economics
  • Accidental Falls* / prevention & control
  • Accidental Falls* / statistics & numerical data
  • Aged
  • Australia
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Inpatients*
  • Judgment
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Mass Screening / economics*
  • Physical Therapy Specialty*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Risk Assessment / economics*