Falls are common among older adults, can lead to serious injuries, and have a substantial cost; $4619-$6756 per emergency department (ED) presentation. This study mapped ED falls-related presentations across the western region of Victoria.
Presentations to 24-hour EDs following a community fall were obtained for individuals aged ≥40years during 2010-2013 inclusive. Repeated ED presentations over the time period were removed. Data from the Victorian Emergency Minimum Dataset was retrieved from the Centre for Victorian Data Linkage, Victorian Department of Health and Human Services. Age-adjusted incidence rates (per 10,000 population/year) were calculated for each Local Government Area (LGA) separately. The impact of aggregated age, accessibility/remoteness index of Australia (ARIA) and socioeconomic status (SES) on LGA level aggregated falls ED presentation rates was also determined using Poisson regression.
Age-adjusted incidence rates for both sexes combined varied from 36.2/10,000population/year (95%CI 28.6-43.8) in Northern Grampians to 241.2/10,000population/year (95%CI 228.5-254.0) in Warrnambool. In men, the rate was lowest in Northern Grampians (27.1; 95%CI 18.3-36.0) and highest in Warrnambool (202.6; 95%CI 186.0-219.3). In women, the lowest rates occurred in Ararat (42.4; 95%CI 30.4-54.4) and the highest in Warrnambool (292.8; 95%CI 273.8-311.7). Age and ARIA were significant predictors of falls rates (p<0.001). For both sexes combined, the incidence rate ratios (IRRs) for age and ARIA were 0.00383 and 40.893, respectively. For men, the IRRs were 0.00135 and 27.668 and for women, 0.00829 and 54.834 for age and ARIA, respectively. Rates also varied by SES (p<0.001); there was a 6-fold difference in rates between the lowest and highest SES LGAs, respectively.
Incidence rates varied across the LGAs. Age, ARIA and SES were associated with falls presentation rates to ED. This study has the limitation that only data from the 24-hour EDs were obtained. Additional research is required to determine reasons for differences between LGAs.