Older patients presenting to a county hospital ED after a fall: missed opportunities for prevention

Miguel A. Paniagua, Julie E. Malphurs, Elizabeth A. Phelan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Little is known about the characteristics of elderly persons who present to an ED after a fall or about the nature of the care received for the fall itself. We identified elders presenting to a large urban United States ED after a fall, determined risk factors that may have contributed to the fall, and assessed the extent to which falls were addressed in the ED setting. One hundred seventeen fallers were identified. Nearly half were aged 80 years or older. After age, polypharmacy was the most common fall risk factor, followed by more than 1 contributing medical condition and cognitive impairment. Fall risk factors differed significantly for older compared with younger subgroups. More than half (57%) who had fallen were admitted. Of the remainder who fell and were discharged, more than half were scheduled for follow-up of their fall-related injury only, with no follow-up scheduled to address prevention of future falls. In summary, elders who present to an ED after having fallen have a variety of risk factors for falls that can be addressed to reduce their risk of future falls and injury; however, many may not receive such follow-up care. There must be increased awareness among ED providers of the need for a medical evaluation of a fall. Randomized trials evaluating the effect of a focused fall risk factor assessment after presentation to the ED may be warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)413-417
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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