Background: Falls are a common mechanism of injury in the older population, putting an increasing demand on scarce healthcare resources. The objective of this study was to determine healthcare costs due to falls in the older population.
Methods: An incidence-based cost model was used to estimate the annual healthcare costs and costs per case spent on fall-related injuries in patients ≥ 65 years, The Netherlands (2007-2009). Costs were subdivided by age, gender, nature of injury, and type of resource use.
Results: In the period 2007-2009, each year 3% of all persons aged ≥ 65 years visited the Emergency Department due to a fall incident. Related medical costs were estimated at €675.4 million annually. Fractures led to 80% (€540 million) of the fall-related healthcare costs. The mean costs per fall were €9370, and were higher for women (€9990) than men (€7510) and increased with age (from €3900 at ages 65-69 years to €14,600 at ages ≥ 85 year). Persons ≥ 80 years accounted for 47% of all fall-related Emergency Department visits, and 66% of total costs. The costs of long-term care at home and in nursing homes showed the largest age-related increases and accounted together for 54% of the fall-related costs in older people.
Discussion: Fall-related injuries are leading to a high healthcare consumption and related healthcare costs, which increases with age. Programmes to prevent falls and fractures should be further implemented in order to reduce costs due to falls in the older population and to avoid that healthcare systems become overburdened.
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