Within 6 months after visiting an emergency department for treatment of injuries resulting from a fall, more than half of such patients age 65 and older experienced additional falls, hospitalization, and even death, according to a recent study.

“Our study shows an even higher rate of adverse events than previous studies have,” says Jiraporn Sri-on, MD, of Navamindradhiraj University in Bangkok, Thailand, lead author of the study, which appeared recently in Annals of Emergency Medicine.

“Patients taking psychiatric and/or sedative medications had even more adverse events. This is concerning because these types of drugs are commonly prescribed for elderly patients in community and residential care settings,” Jiraporn Sri-on adds.

Of patients who visited the emergency department for injuries sustained in a fall, 7.7% developed adverse events within 7 days, 21.4% developed adverse events within 30 days, and 50.3% developed adverse events within 6 months. Within 6 months, 22.6% had at least one additional fall, 42.6% revisited the emergency department, 31.1% had subsequent hospitalization, and 2.6% had died, according to a media release from the American College of Emergency Physicians.

Risk factors associated with adverse events within 6 months of an emergency department visit for a fall included diabetes, polypharmacy (five or more medications), and psychiatric and/or sedative medications.

“Emergency physicians have a tremendous opportunity to reduce the very high adverse event rate among older emergency patients who have fallen,” Sri-on shares in the release. “Fall guidelines exist, and work needs to be done to increase their implementation in emergency departments so patients can be educated on how not to fall again once they have been discharged from the emergency department.”

[Source(s): American College of Emergency Physicians, Science Daily]