The Accident Environment Resulting in Fragility Fractures: A 20-year National Epidemiologic Study

J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2022 Jul 1;30(13):e911-e918. doi: 10.5435/JAAOS-D-21-01169. Epub 2022 Apr 25.


Introduction: Fragility fractures are an enduring source of morbidity in the elderly with unfortunate frequency and rising costs. Although the predominant cause of fractures is generally understood to be falls, the exact stratification of the causes of fractures presenting to the emergency department has not yet been described in the literature. We sought out to stratify the primary products associated with fractures in the elderly, further describing the anatomic location of the fracture and setting of injury.

Methods: We queried the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System database for all fractures in patients older than 65 years from January 1, 2000, to December 31, 2019. We analyzed demographic data, patient disposition, anatomic fracture location, and injury setting for the top 20 causes of fractures. Trends, proportions and distributions were analyzed using descriptive statistics.

Results: A total of 901,418 visits to the Emergency Department were reviewed. Of these, 216,657 (24%) were found to have fractures. The top 20 causes for fractures accounted for a total of 173,557 (19%) fractures. The average age in our population was 80.1 years (SD 8.7). Women constituted most of the patients (127,753 [74%]). Flooring (58,347 [33.6%]) was the most common product associated with the cause of fractures, with stairs/steps (29,804 [17.2%]) and bed/bed frames (19,004 [10.9%]) being the second and third most common, respectively. Lower extremity fractures (97,195 [56%]) were more common than upper extremity fractures (63,899 [37%]). The lower trunk (pelvis, femoral neck, and lower spine) was the most common anatomic location of fractures reported (64,132 [37.0%]). Most fractures occurred either at home (113,158 [65.2%]) or at a public setting (31,162 [18.0%]).

Conclusions: Most products associated with fractures among mature adults were related to flooring, stairs, or bedding. This study offers a detailed understanding on the common products associated with fractures in mature adults and aids in discussing preventive measures for lowering fracture risk with patients, communities, and healthcare systems.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Databases, Factual
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Epidemiologic Studies
  • Female
  • Fractures, Bone* / epidemiology
  • Fractures, Bone* / etiology
  • Fractures, Bone* / prevention & control
  • Humans