Background: This study aimed to determine (i) risk factors for postdischarge falls and (ii) the effect of inpatient falls prevention education on rates of falls after discharge.
Methods: Participants (n = 343) were a prospective cohort nested within a randomized controlled trial (n = 1,206) of falls prevention patient education in hospital compared with usual care. Participants were followed up for 6 months after discharge and falls recorded via a falls diary and monthly telephone calls. Potential falls risk factors were assessed at point of discharge and at 6 months postdischarge using a telephone survey.
Results: There were 276 falls among 138 (40.2%) participants in the 6 months following discharge (4.52/1,000 person days) of which 150 were injurious falls (2.46/1,000 person days). Pairwise comparisons found no significant differences between groups in rates of falls after adjustment for confounding variables. Independent risk factors for all falls outcomes were male gender, history of falls prior to hospital admission, fall during hospital admission, depressed mood at discharge, using a walking aid at discharge, and receiving assistance with activities of daily living at 6 months following discharge. Receiving assistance with activities of daily living significantly reduced the risk of falls and injurious falls for high risk patients.
Conclusions: Older patients are at increased risk of falls and falls injuries following discharge. Education that effectively reduced inpatient falls appears to have no ongoing protective effect after discharge. Independent risk factors for falls in this population differ from both hospital and general community settings.