Background: The objective was to determine secular trends in unintentional fall-related hospitalizations in people aged 65 years and older in the United States.
Materials: Data were obtained from a nationally representative sample of emergency department visits from January 1, 2001, to December 31, 2008, available through the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System-All Injury Program. These data were weighted to estimate the number, incidence rates, and the annual percent change of fall-related hospitalizations.
Results: From 2001 to 2008, the estimated number of fall-related hospitalizations in older adults increased 50%, from 373,128 to 559,355 cases. During the same time period, the age-adjusted incidence rate, expressed per 100,000 population, increased from 1,046 to 1,368. Rates were higher in women compared with men throughout the study period. The age-adjusted incidence rate showed an average annual increase of 3.3% (95% CI, 1.66-4.95).
Discussion: Both the number and rate of fall-related hospitalizations in the United States increased significantly over the 8-year study period. Unless preventive action is taken, rising hospitalization rates in combination with the aging US population over the next decades will exacerbate the already stressed healthcare system and may result in poorer health outcomes for older adults in the future. Further research is needed to determine the underlying causes for this rising trend.