The direct costs of fatal and non-fatal falls among older adults - United States

J Safety Res. 2016 Sep;58:99-103. doi: 10.1016/j.jsr.2016.05.001. Epub 2016 May 28.


Introduction: This study sought to estimate the incidence, average cost, and total direct medical costs for fatal and non-fatal fall injuries in hospital, ED, and out-patient settings among U.S. adults aged 65 or older in 2012, by sex and age group and to report total direct medical costs for falls inflated to 2015 dollars.

Method: Incidence data came from the 2012 National Vital Statistics System, 2012 Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project-Nationwide Inpatient Sample, 2012 Health Care Utilization Program National Emergency Department Sample, and 2007 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. Costs for fatal falls were derived from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System; costs for non-fatal falls were based on claims from the 1998/1999 Medicare fee-for-service 5% Standard Analytical Files. Costs were inflated to 2015 estimates using the health care component of the Personal Consumption Expenditure index.

Results: In 2012, there were 24,190 fatal and 3.2 million medically treated non-fatal fall related injuries. Direct medical costs totaled $616.5 million for fatal and $30.3 billion for non-fatal injuries in 2012 and rose to $637.5 million and $31.3 billion, respectively, in 2015. Fall incidence as well as total cost increased with age and were higher among women.

Conclusion: Medically treated falls among older adults, especially among older women, are associated with substantial economic costs.

Practical application: Widely implementing evidence-based interventions for fall prevention is essential to decrease the incidence and healthcare costs associated with these injuries.

Keywords: Costs; Fall; Hospital care; Older people; STEADI.

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / economics*
  • Accidental Falls / mortality
  • Accidental Falls / statistics & numerical data*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Health Care Costs / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • United States / epidemiology