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Vol. 51, No. 5, 2005
Issue release date: September–October 2005
Gerontology 2005;51:329–333

Orthopaedic Injuries following Falls by Hospital In-Patients

Nadkarni J.B. · Iyengar K.P. · Dussa C. · Watwe S. · Vishwanath K.
Department of Orthopaedics, Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust, Southport, UK

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Background: Falls are one of the most frequent episodes on the hospital wards. Objective: To identify orthopaedic injuries sustained by in-patients falling on the hospital wards and to find out what treatment these required along with the additional time and cost that this incurred. Methods: A retrospective analysis of 900 incident forms and case records was undertaken for a 3-year period. Fractures and other soft-tissue injuries sustained and time, place, and mode of injury were noted. Type of fractures sustained and specific treatment required including operative procedure needed were studied. The cost of each treatment and the total cost in terms of time and money were calculated. Results: We identified 42 patients with orthopaedic injuries; 53% of the falls were recorded on medical wards. A poor pre-fall mobility was an important factor in over 80% of the cases, and a variety of medical conditions pre-existed in the elderly ill patients. Eighteen patients (42%) sustained hip fractures, of whom 15 patients (36%) required surgical treatment. There were 9 deaths in total, 5 of them occurred in patients with hip fractures. The cost of treating the injuries amounted to about GBP 70,000. An additional hospital stay of 56 weeks in total was needed, most patients requiring between 1 and 5 weeks of additional stay. Conclusions: Falls in elderly in-patients can result in a variety of skeletal injuries. These may require major operative procedures and result in significant morbidity and can prove fatal. The treatment of these injuries is a substantial added expenditure to the trust.

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