Lead Author(s): 

Jaimo Ahn, MD, PhD, FACS
Arvind D Nana, MD
Gudrun Mirick, MD
Anna N Miller, MD, FACS

Supporting Author(s): 

Sylvia I Watkins-Castillo, PhD

Falls are a major cause of unintentional musculoskeletal injuries, particularly fractures, and often the contributing cause of death within a year of the fall in older persons. Between 2000 and 2015, the age-adjusted rate of death per 100,000 persons due to falls rose from 4.8 to 9.0, nearly doubling. At the same time, the proportion of total unintentional injury deaths that were due to falls rose from 14% to 23%. (Reference Table 5C.1 PDF CSV)

Most deaths due to falls were associated with older age, with the elderly person with already compromised health never fully recovering from their injuries, leading to death.The rate of deaths per 100,000 due to falls rose from 62.3 among persons age 75 to 84 years to 250.1 in the 85 and older age group. However, the share of deaths due to falls did not rise as steeply, accounting for 56% of total unintentional injury deaths in the 75 to 84 age group, compared with 69% in those 85 and older. Persons who fall in their mid-80s or older have a higher likelihood of dying from that fall. (Reference Table 5C.2 PDF CSV)

Falls are also the leading cause of unintentional injuries resulting in hospitalization for most age groups. Exceptions are persons age 15 to 24 (4th ranking cause), 25 to 34 (5th), and 35 to 44 (3rd). On average, for the years 2010 to 2016, falls accounted for between 8% and 77% of all hospitalized injuries, depending on the age group, and 43% overall for all ages.1 The estimated lifetime medical and work-loss costs for all unintentional hospitalized nonfatal injuries in 2013 was $253 billion.2

One in eight (13%) unintentional injuries incurred from a fall that was severe enough to be treated in an emergency department and resulted in hospitalization in 2015. Age was a strong mitigating factor, as only 2% of these injuries among children and adolescents under 18 years of age were hospitalized, while in the 85 and older age group, 35% were hospitalized. (Reference Table 5C.3 PDF CSV)

  • 1. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, CDC. NEISS All Injury Program operated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission  (CPSC). 10 leading causes of nonfatal injury, United States 2010 - 2016, all races, both sexes, disposition: hospitalized. https://webappa.cdc.gov/cgi-bin/broker.exe  September 5, 2018.
  • 2. Florence C, Haegerish T, Simon T, Zhou C, Luo F. Estimated lifetime medical and work-loss costs of emergency department-treated nonfatal injuries-United States 2013. MMWR 2015;64(38):1078-1082. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6438a5.htm?s_cid=mm6438a5_w  September 5, 2018.


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