According to this report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each year one in three adults age 65 and older suffer a fall. Falls can lead to serious injuries such as hip fractures, head trauma, and even death. Over 18,000 older adults died from fall injuries in 2007 alone. The death rate from falls among older adults has risen sharply over the past ten years.
The leading cause of death due to injury for people 65 and older is falls, which are also the most common cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital treatment for trauma for older adults. More than 581,000 of the 2.2 million older adults who were treated in emergency departments in 2009 for nonfatal fall injuries had to be admitted into the hospital for treatment. The direct medical costs for treating nonfatal falls in 2000 was over $19 billion ($179 million for fatal falls and $19 billion for nonfatal fall injuries).
20% to 30% of people who suffer falls sustain moderate to severe injuries, which may lead to loss of independent living and the increase risk of an early death (81% of fall deaths were among older adults in 2007) . Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries and account for the most fractures among older adults (such brain injuries accounted for 46% of fatal falls of older adults in 2000). The death rate for men from falls in 2007 was 46% higher than for women, although women were 46% more likely to be injured in a nonfatal fall and the rate of fractures from falls in women is more than twice that for men (older whites were 2.5 times more likely to die from falls than older blacks; older non-Hispanics have a higher fatal fall rate than Hispanics; white women have higher hip fracture rates than black women).
However, most falls are preventable and the risk of falling can be reduced with regular exercise, regular vision checks, review of medications by a pharmacist or doctor to reduce side effects and medication interactions causing weakness, dizziness, and drowsiness, and by adding grab bars and railings and by improving the lighting at home. The risk of a hip fracture may be reduced by getting adequate calcium and vitamin D, by engaging in a program of weight bearing exercise, and by getting screened and treated for osteoporosis.
Contact us to find a medical malpractice lawyer in your area to help determine if a fall causing injuries was preventable. You may also call us toll free at 800-295-3959.