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Falls are the Leading Injury-Related Cause
of ER Visits
-- If you or someone you know has been
treated in the emergency department recently
after suffering a fall, you are not alone.
Unintentional falls are the leading
injury-related reason for why people seek
emergency care, with almost 9 million visits
occurring each year, according to the latest
data from the Centers for Disease Control
"The nation's emergency physicians are
prepared to care for anyone injured from a
fall," said Dr. Sandra
Schneider, president of the American
College of Emergency Physicians.
"But it's important to look around your
everyday environment and minimize the risk
to not only for yourself, but for others as
well. There is a reason that unintentional
falls are common injuries with our patients.
They can happen at any time, any place and
happen to anyone."
Facts About Unintentional Falls:
Falls are the leading cause of
unintentional home injury deaths,
accounting for 33 percent of deaths,
according the Home Safety Council (HSC).
Falls account for more than 40 percent
of nonfatal injuries (HSC).
The two highest risk age groups are
children under five and older adults
over 70 years old.
For children, the most severe falls are
generally associated with baby walkers,
windows and play equipment, including
For older adults, falls are associated
with lower-body weakness, problems with
balance and walking, visual impairment,
chronic illness or a history of stroke.
Preventing Unintentional Falls:
Remove clutter from your home. Don't
leave objects on the stairs or walkways.
Use nightlights in the bedroom, hall and
bathroom. Be sure the tops and bottoms
of stairs are well lit.
Repair loose stairway carpeting or
Consider adding hand grip bars in a
bathroom and shower area, especially for
the elderly or those with disabilities.
Make your home or work area easily
accessible for the elderly or those with
disabilities if they frequent that area.
You can do that by moving furniture or
objects on the floor that could cause
Especially for elderly people, remove
throw rugs and tack down other rugs to
avoid tripping. Also consider using a
panic button (as a pendant, wristband or
Be sure the bottom of the tub or shower
has a non-skid surface.
Wear helmets and other protective gear
if biking, motorcycling or playing any
type of contact sport.
Inspect child playground equipment to
make sure it is age appropriate and in
Play areas should be covered with
padding, such as shredded mulch, wood
chips, gravel or fine sand.
Keep stairs clear of toys and other
items that could cause someone to trip.
If young children are allowed on
stairs, teach them to hold the handrail
and always tie their shoes so they avoid
Set up locking gates near stairs to
block young children if they are too
young to be on them.
Windows that open for children as young
as 5 years old install window guards
with quick release mechanisms that can
opened easily in case of a fire.
"A fall can be a sentinel event in the life
of an older person, potentially marking the
beginning of a serious decline in function
or the symptom of a new or worsening medical
condition," said Dr. Schneider.
"Identifying the cause of the fall and
making appropriate interventions to improve
function are as critical as treating
injuries if future falls are to be prevented
and quality of life and longevity are to be
To see ACEP's Home Safety Checklist, go to http://www.acep.org/workarea/downloadasset.aspx?id=8716.
ACEP is a national medical specialty society
representing emergency medicine. ACEP is
committed to advancing emergency care
through continuing education, research and
public education. Headquartered inDallas,
Texas, ACEP has 53 chapters
representing each state, as well as Puerto
of Columbia. A Government Services
Chapter represents emergency physicians
employed by military branches and other