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  • Writer's pictureSaundra Smyrski

Catch Me If You Can- Fall Risk Cases

According to the World Health Organization(WHO), falls are the second leading cause of unintentional injury deaths worldwide. Although most falls are deemed to be non-fatal, many fatalities and long-term disability are the result of falls (2021).

The WHO (2021) states, for every death due to a fall, there are:

  • 4 cases of permanent disability

  • 13 cases requiring hospitalization for more than 10 days

  • 24 cases requiring hospitalization for 1–9 days and

  • 690 cases seeking medical care or missing work/school.

What's the Deal?

There are an estimated 684,000 fatal falls each year, deeming "falls" as the 2nd leading cause of unintentional injury death; only topped by "road traffic injuries." Globally, 80% of fall-related fatalities occur in low and middle income countries; the Western Pacific and South East Asia accounting for 60% of these deaths. In all regions of the world death rates are highest among adults over the age of 60 years (WHO, 2021).

Approximately 37.3 million non-fatal falls require medical attention annually. Globally, falls are responsible for over 38 million DALYs (disability-adjusted life years) lost each year(2), and result in more years lived with disability than transport injury, drowning, burns and poisoning combined (WHO, 2021).

Risk Factors

Although anyone who falls, can be at risk for severe injury or death, there are some factors that have been proven to increase the risk.

  1. Age- The older population have the highest risk of a serious injury or death occurring as a result of a fall. In the United States, 20-30% of older people who fall suffer moderate to severe injuries such as bruises, hip fractures, or head trauma.

  2. Gender- Some studies have noted that males are likely to die from a fall, while females suffer more non-fatal falls. Older women and younger children are especially prone to falls and increased injury severity (WHO, 2021).

  3. Other risk factors may include:

  4. occupations at elevated heights or other hazardous working conditions

  5. alcohol or substance use

  6. socioeconomic factors including poverty, overcrowded housing, sole parenthood, young maternal age

  7. underlying medical conditions, such as neurological, cardiac or other disabling conditions

  8. side effects of medication, physical inactivity and loss of balance, particularly among older people

  9. poor mobility, cognition, and vision, particularly among those living in an institution, such as a nursing home or chronic care facility

  10. unsafe environments, particularly for those with poor balance and limited vision

**As a Neuro ICU nurse, head trauma in the elderly, related to falls, was a very common occurrence. The result of which was very often unfavorable. Often due to rugs, clumsy shoes, a misgauged step, cords, etc. Also, physical, sensory, and cognitive changes associated with aging.


Common Fall Cases

  • Approximately 30% of hospitalized patient falls result in physical injury. 4-6% result in serious injury.

  • Falls are often the basis for negligence cases

  • Incorrect implementation, or failure to perform fall risk assessments, has a direct impact on patient safety in a variety of healthcare settings, such as:

  • Falls during hospitalizations

  • Falls in outpatient clinics

  • Falls in outpatient surgical centers

  • Falls in the home while receiving home healthcare services

  • Falls in rehabilitation facilities

  • Falls in long term care settings


1 common defense for fall risk cases is that, "Falls are unavoidable." While there is certainly some truth to this, the truth is miniscule in comparison the number of "Avoidable" falls that we handle.

For your Fall Risk Assessment Cases, call us at Saundra Smyrski LLC, today! 727.225.4358

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