Managing older adults with ground-level falls admitted to a trauma service: the effect of frailty

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2015 Apr;63(4):745-9. doi: 10.1111/jgs.13338. Epub 2015 Apr 6.


Objectives: To determine whether frail elderly adults are at greater risk of fracture after a ground-level fall (GLF) than those who are not frail.

Design: Prospective observational study.

Setting: Level 1 trauma center.

Participants: All elderly (≥65) adults presenting after a GLF over 1 year (N = 110; mean age ± SD 79.5 ± 8.3, 54% male).

Measurement: A Frailty Index (FI) was calculated using 50 preadmission frailty variables. Participants with a FI of 0.25 or greater were considered to be frail. The primary outcome measure was a new fracture; 40.1% (n = 45) of participants presented with a new fracture. The secondary outcome was discharge to an institutional facility (rehabilitation center or skilled nursing facility). Multivariate logistic regression was performed.

Results: Forty-three (38.2%) participants were frail. The median Injury Severity Score was 14 (range 9-17), and the mean FI was 0.20 ± 0.12. Frail participants were more likely than those who were not frail to have fractures (odds ratio (OR) = 1.8, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.2-2.3, P = .01). Thirty-six (32.7%) participants were discharged to an institutional facility. Frail participants were more likely to be discharged to an institutional facility (OR = 1.42, 95% CI = 1.08-3.09, P = .03) after a GLF.

Conclusion: Frail individuals have a higher likelihood of fractures and discharge to an institutional facility after a GLF than those who are not frail. The FI may be used as an adjunct for decision-making when developing a discharge plan for an elderly adult after a GLF.

Keywords: discharge disposition; fractures; frailty; ground-level falls; outcomes.

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls*
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Fractures, Bone / therapy*
  • Frail Elderly*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Observational Studies as Topic
  • Patient Discharge
  • Prospective Studies
  • Trauma Centers
  • Trauma Severity Indices