Hospital Bed

The impact of falls 

It happens in the blink of an eye. But the consequences

can be devastating for a person, family, and community. Falls are becoming a public health crisis that must be addressed today. 

elderly-person-falling-1280x720.webp

I was working nightshift in a large, understaffed nursing home community ... I must have been down another hallway 

when the bed alarm went off, but I was too far away to hear it... by the time we found her on the ground, who knows how long it had been... I feel so devastated...but I don't know what more I could have done with the tools we were given."

-Michaela S, Nursing Home Caregvier

Understanding the cost of a fall

every          min

20

An older adult dies from a fall

1

in

4

Older adults fall each year

30%

Increase in falls from 2007-2016

Quick Facts:

Injuries to the patient

  • Falls are the leading cause of death and disability in older adults (65+)

  • On average, 1/3 of hospital falls result in a bone fracture or brain injury

  • Hospitalization after a fall is associated with serious downstream risks:

    • Pressure ulcers from decreased mobility

    • Deadly hospital-acquired infections

    • Dangerous medication-related decreases in cognitive function

  • Falls are much more likely to occur in hospitals and nursing homes

    • Patients are more likely to have pre-existing medical conditions which increase their risk of falling

  • Hip fractures are a feared complication of falls

    • After suffering a hip fracture, elderly patients are unlikely to live independently again

  • Fear of falls leads to decreased physical activity and reduced quality of life

Cost to healthcare systems

  • Falls cost the U.S. healthcare system $50 billion in 2015; this cost is projected to increase to $67 billion by 2020

  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services categorized patient falls as never events in 2008. Therefore, these services no longer reimburse hospitals for costs associated with patient falls, and health systems bear the sole financial responsibility for these costly adverse events

  • The average healthcare expenditures for a single fall event cost $34,294 in 2012. This number is likely much higher today given the continual rising costs of healthcare

  • Health systems are highly incentivized to implement robust fall prevention programs to save costs and improve patient outcomes

Harms to society 

  • Family and friends frequently take off work to spend time with their injured loved one

    • This leads to decreased workplace productivity, lost opportunity costs, and additive health-related expenditures

  • The psychosocial stresses of falls extends to the family and care team:

    • Family members may have rising anxiety and stress levels regarding the health of their loved one, impacting their own quality of life

    • Caregivers who discover the patient may blame themselves for the outcome, increasing work-related stress, decreasing job satisfaction, and increasing rates of provider burnout

Projected increase in falls 

  • The U.S. will see a significant rise in fall incidence over the next decade:

    • Increased rate of falls amongst older adults 

    • 30% increase in fall rate from 2007-2016

    • Projected increase of over 5% per year

  • Increased total number of older adults at risk of falling:

    • 2007: 46 million older adults (29 million falls)

    • 2030: 74 million older adults (49 million falls)

Falls are not an inevitable part of aging. Nor are they the fault of individual providers. We must act now to create innovative, systems-based solutions to reduce falls and protect the health and independence of our elderly community. 

The statistics on this page were adopted from information and materials 

publicly available on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website (updated: 2017)