Coexisting Systemic Infections in Patients Hospitalized Because of a Fall: Prevalence and Risk Factors

J Emerg Med. 2020 May;58(5):733-740. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2020.01.018. Epub 2020 Mar 21.


Background: Infectious disease-related factors that may contribute to or complicate falls have received relatively little attention in the literature.

Objective: Our aim was to determine the prevalence of, and risk factors for, coexisting systemic infections (CSIs) in patients admitted to the hospital because of a fall or its complications.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective cohort study of adult patients seen at a tertiary care hospital emergency department and subsequently hospitalized because of a fall or its complications.

Results: Of 1,456 evaluable cases, 775 patients (53.2%) were female. Mean age was 71.6 years (range 18-104 years). CSI was diagnosed in 303 patients (20.8%), of which 166 (54.8%) were urinary tract infections and 108 (35.6%) were pneumonia cases; 14 patients (4.6%) were bacteremic. CSI was not initially suspected by providers in 98 (32.5%) subsequently diagnosed cases. Age ≥50 years (odds ratio [OR] 5.6; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.2-24.9), inability to get up on own after the index fall (OR 2.1; 95% CI 1.2-3.6), preexisting symptom(s) (OR 3.0; 95% CI 1.8-5.2), and systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) (OR 2.9; 95% CI 1.5-5.4), or confusion at presentation (OR 3.0; 95% CI 1.5-6.0) were independently associated with CSI. In-hospital mortality rate was significantly higher among patients with CSI (6.9% vs. 3.8 %, OR 1.9; 95% CI 1.1-3.3).

Conclusions: CSIs are common among patients admitted to the hospital after a fall or its complications. Age ≥ 50 years, inability to get up on own, preexisting symptom(s), and the presence of SIRS or confusion at presentation are potential predictors of CSI in this patient population.

Keywords: emergency department; falls; hospital; infections.

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Sepsis*
  • Young Adult