Objective: To develop a comprehensive estimate of the burden of fall-related injury among older people in New South Wales.
Methods: Fall injuries in 2006/07 were estimated using information from several datasets and the literature. Healthcare costs were calculated using Australia-Refined – Diagnostic-Related Group costs for hospital episodes of care and average costs for Emergency Department presentations, ambulance transport and residential aged care (RAC). Ratios of the cost of inpatient care relative to other health services, derived from the literature, were used to estimate the costs associated with these services.
Results: In 2006/07, in NSW, there were almost 143,000 falls, among older people, resulting in injuries requiring medical treatment. The total cost of healthcare associated with these falls was estimated at $558.5 million. Although accounting for only 6% of the NSW population aged 65 years and older, persons in RAC accounted for 15% of the total cost of falls injury and 21% of hospital inpatient costs.
Conclusion and implications: This study demonstrates the extremely high economic cost of falls in older persons and highlights the disproportionate impact of falls in RAC. The study underscores the urgent need for significant investment in fall-injury prevention efforts in both the community and RAC settings.