Fall Injuries Among the Elderly: Community‐based Surveillance

Carolee A. DeVito, Deborah A. Lambert, Richard W. Sattin, Sandro Bacchelli, Alberto Ros, Juan G. Rodriguez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Falls are a leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries among the elderly in the United States. Despite the importance of fall injuries, epidemiological studies of falls among the elderly have identified neither their causes nor the methods to prevent them. Therefore, we established a community‐based surveillance system in Miami Beach, Florida, as part of a study to assess falls among the elderly. A total of 1,827 fall injury events occurred in this community between July 1985 and June 1986. More than 85% (1,567) of the persons who fell and received care were seen in an emergency room. The remaining cases were identified from one of the three other sources used: fire rescue reports, inpatient medical records, or medical examiner reports. Most falls (97%) were coded as accidental (E880–E888). More than 100 people sought medical assistance for a fall each month. The time of the injury was known for 68% (1,244) of the people who fell. Seventy‐four percent of these falls (921) occurred during daylight hours. Fifty‐four percent of the falls (986) occurred in and around the home, and 38% of these had a particular area of the home recorded: 42% occurred in the bedroom, 34% in the bathroom, 9% in the kitchen, 5% on the stairs, 4% in the living room, and the remaining 6% in other areas. This surveillance system will help us use the study to clarify the causes of falls in the elderly and identify and evaluate appropriate prevention efforts. It will also help others in designing and implementing other injury surveillance systems. 1988 The American Geriatrics Society

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1029-1035
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1988
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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