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Falls top list of most common hospitalised injuries

Falls are the most common cause of hospitalised injury – and numbers are rising.

A new Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report revealed falls account for almost half (41 per cent) of all hospitalised injuries. This was followed by transport crashes at 12 per cent.

Trends in hospitalised injury, Australia 1999–00 to 2014–15, also showed that hospitalisations for exposure to mechanical forces and intentional self-harm had risen, while those for accidental poisoning and assault had fallen over this period.

Overall, the number of hospitalised injury cases rose from 327,000 in 1999–00 to 480,000 in 2014–15.

AIHW spokesperson Professor James Harrison said this equated to 1 person requiring hospitalisation in every 58 Australians in 1999–00, rising to about 1 in 50 in 2014–15.

“People aged 65 or over accounted for 30 per cent of injury cases, with the majority of these being for falls,” Harrison said.

The report also found that people living in remote areas of Australia required hospitalisation for injury at twice the rate of those living in major cities, with 1 in 27 people living in very remote areas requiring hospitalisation compared to 1 in 54 in major cities.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are also twice as likely as non-Indigenous Australians to be hospitalised for injury,” Harrison said.

In a separate report on hospitalised injury due to falls, AIHW found that for people aged 65 and over in 2014–15, injuries to the hip and thigh (at 24 per cent) and head (24 per cent) were the most common types. Rates of head injury were particularly high in older Australians aged 85 and over.

Just over a third of fall injury cases for those aged 65 and over in this period were caused by slipping, tripping or stumbling on the same level. Falls from household objects, such as beds, chairs or steps made up the next largest proportion of cases.

The majority (85 per cent) of fall injury cases in 2014–15 happened in either the home or in residential aged care, with the rate of fall injury cases occurring in residential aged care for those 65 or over recorded at a rate 5 times higher than falls in the home.

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