Preventing falls in elderly patients

Teaching clinicians and older patients how to prevent falls can reduce the likelihood—by up to 11 percent—of falls that lead to hospitalization or an emergency room visit, Yale researchers reported in The New England Journal of Medicine in July.

The researchers compared injury rates in a 58-zip code area in and around Hartford—where clinicians incorporated fall risk assessment and management into their practices—to those in a control region. Their analysis also showed some 1,800 fewer emergency department visits or hospitalizations; and health care savings estimated at $21 million over two years.

“The next step is to put [the research] into practice,” said senior author Mary E. Tinetti, M.D., the Gladys Phillips Crofoot Professor of Medicine and professor of epidemiology and of investigative medicine, “by making physicians, nurses and physical therapists everywhere more conscious of fall risks … and of what can be done to prevent falls.”


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