Unintentional falls remain the most common cause of hospitalizations and emergency department (ED) visits for injury and trauma. We thought we’d share some interesting information on the topic during Fall Prevention Month External link, opens in new window.

Our Injury and Trauma Quick Stats contain data on injury and trauma visits in the ED and hospitalizations in acute care hospitals.

The demographics of unintentional falls

According to our latest data, there were almost 654,000 reported ED visits for injuries sustained after unintentional falls, accounting for almost a third of all reported ED visits for injury and trauma last year. Results are based on partial ED coverage (52%).

There were also 152,504 hospital stays due to unintentional falls, meaning the patient spent at least one night as an inpatient. This figure rose by almost 6,000 from the year before. Our data shows that patients hospitalized due to an unintentional fall spend more time in hospital than the average inpatient. The average hospital stay after a fall was 14.3 days in 2016–2017, compared with 7.5 days for the average for all hospitalizations.

When looking at demographics, 72% of reported ED visits for falls are made by patients younger than 65. Conversely, about 71% of hospital stays resulting from falls occur among the senior population age 65 and older.

The most common type of injury due to falls varies, depending on the age of the inpatient. For example, the most common injuries for children age 0 to 17 are fractures of the shoulder, upper arm and forearm, and head injuries. Those age 18 to 64 are most likely to be hospitalized with a lower leg or ankle fracture, while seniors age 65 and older are most likely to be hospitalized for a hip fracture.

Beyond falls

There are many causes of injuries that result in an ED visit or a hospital stay.

The number of hospital stays in 2016–2017 for cycling injuries was 4,268. This number does not include emergency department visits.

Motor vehicle accidents continue to be responsible for a high number of injuries. In all, about 23,000 hospitalizations and 136,000 reported ED visits were related to motor vehicle accidents. More than 4,200 of those vehicle-related hospitalizations involved cyclists and more than 3,000 involved pedestrians.

Injuries due to attempted suicide and self-inflicted injury (including poisonings) resulted in more than 21,000 hospitalizations and 26,000 reported ED visits

Going forward

CIHI’s hope is that, through increased awareness, this updated information on injury hospitalizations and ED visits can be used to help reduce the number of unintentional falls and other causes of injury in Canada.

The DAD, HMDB and NACRS databases from which this annual update is drawn are rich sources of data. They can be easily accessed and used by researchers and health system decision-makers to compare their results with those of neighbouring jurisdictions, to identify improvement opportunities and to inform best practices.

Stay tuned for CIHI’s annual ED statistics, including length of stay information, to be released in fall 2018.

Learn more about injuries and trauma on CIHI’s Quick Stats page.