Stair-related injuries treated in United States emergency departments

Am J Emerg Med. 2018 Apr;36(4):608-614. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2017.09.034. Epub 2017 Sep 20.


Objective: To investigate the characteristics of stair-related injuries among individuals of all ages and estimate national injury frequencies and rates using a representative sample of patients treated in United States emergency departments.

Methods: Data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System were analyzed for patients treated for stair-related injuries in United States emergency departments from 1990 through 2012.

Results: An estimated 24,760,843 patients were treated in emergency departments for a stair-related injury during the 23-year study period, averaging 1,076,558 patients annually, or 37.8 injuries per 10,000 United States residents. The annual rate of stair-related injuries decreased by 12.6% (p<0.001) during 1990-1996, followed by an increase of 24.0% (p<0.001) during 1996-2012. Although the highest injury rates occurred among younger children and older adults, the majority (67.2%) of emergency department visits for stair-related injuries was by individuals 11-60years old. Most patients were female (62.4%), who also had a higher injury rate (46.5 vs. 29.1 per 10,000) than males. Sprains and strains (32.3%), soft tissue injuries (23.8%), and fractures (19.3%) were the most common types of injury. The body regions most frequently injured were the lower extremities (42.1%) and head/neck (21.6%). Patients ≤10years old experienced more head/neck injuries. Older adult patients more frequently sustained fractures than younger age groups.

Conclusions: Stairs are a common source of injury among individuals of all ages and the frequency and rate of stair-related injuries are increasing. This underscores the need for increased prevention efforts, particularly those related to stair design and construction.

Keywords: Emergency department; Injury; National Electronic Injury Surveillance System; Stairs; Stairways.

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / epidemiology
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Fractures, Bone / epidemiology*
  • Fractures, Bone / etiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Linear Models
  • Lower Extremity / injuries
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neck Injuries / epidemiology
  • Population Surveillance
  • Sex Distribution
  • Soft Tissue Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Soft Tissue Injuries / etiology
  • Sprains and Strains / epidemiology*
  • Sprains and Strains / etiology
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult