Geriatric Falls: Patient Characteristics Associated with Emergency Department Revisits
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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Geriatric Falls: Patient Characteristics Associated with Emergency Department Revisits


Introduction: Falls are the leading cause of traumatic injury among elderly adults in the United States, which represents a significant source of morbidity and leads to exorbitant healthcare costs. The purpose of this study was to characterize elderly fall patients and identify risk factors associated with seven-day emergency department (ED) revisits.

Methods: This was a multicenter, retrospective, longitudinal cohort study using non-public data from 321 licensed, nonfederal, general, and acute care hospitals in California obtained from the Department of Healthcare Access and Information from January 1–December 31, 2017. Included were patients 65 and older who had a fall-related ED visit identified by International Classification of Diseases codes W00x to W19x. Primary outcome was a return visit to the ED within a seven-day window following the index encounter. Demographics collected included age, gender, ethnicity/race, patient payer status, Charlson Comorbidity Index (CCI), psychiatric diagnoses, and alcohol/substance use disorder diagnoses. We performed multivariate logistic regression to identify characteristics associated with seven-day ED revisit.

Results: We identified a total of 2,758,295 ED visits during the study period with 347,233 (12.6%) visits corresponding to fall-related injuries. After applying exclusion criteria, 242,572 index ED visits were identified, representing 206,612 patients. Of these, 24,114 (11.7%) patients returned to an ED within seven days (revisit). Within this revisit population, 6,161 (22.6%) presented to a facility that was distinct from their index visit, and 4,970 (18.2%) were ultimately discharged with the same primary diagnosis as their index visit. Characteristics with the largest independent associations with a seven-day ED revisit were presence of a psychiatric diagnosis (odds ratio [OR] 1.75; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.69 to 1.80), presence of an alcohol or substance use disorder (OR 1.70; 95% CI 1.64 to 1.78), and CCI ≥ 3 (OR 2.79; 95% CI 2.68 to 2.90).

Conclusion: In this study we identified 24,114 elderly fall patients who experienced a seven-day ED revisit. Patients with multiple comorbidities, a substance use disorder, or a psychiatric diagnosis exhibited increased odds of experiencing a return visit to the ED within seven days of a fall-related index visit. These findings will help target at-risk elderly fall patients who may benefit from preventative multidisciplinary intervention during index ED visits to reduce ED revisits.

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