Introduction: The elderly population in Singapore is steadily increasing, thus increasing the stress on healthcare provision and financing. Elderly injuries result in significant mortality and morbidity. This study aimed to identify the injury patterns, specific risk factors involved and needs of the elderly so that the current emergency model of care for the injured elderly can be improved and injury prevention strategies devised.
Methods: We conducted a retrospective study of all elderly aged 65 years and older seen for trauma in an emergency department over six months. Data captured in the real-time computer system was studied with regard to patient profile, mechanism of injury and patient disposition.
Results: 720 patients aged 65 years and older were seen for trauma in the first six months of 2005, accounting for 10.4 percent of the total attendance for that age group. Home injuries (67.9 percent) were the most common, followed by road-related injuries (21.2 percent). 85.3 percent of the injuries were due to falls. 49.9 percent of the patients were admitted to hospital. We also examined the underlying causes of the injuries and the common injuries sustained.
Conclusion: Injuries in the elderly is a significant problem. Most of the injuries occur at home and falling is the commonest cause. Many of the injuries are potentially preventable. Several possible injury prevention strategies and improvements to the current emergency model of care of the injured elderly are discussed. The establishment of a national elderly injury surveillance database is advocated.