CMS 139 V2 – Falls: Screening for Future Fall Risk

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Create DateDecember 15, 2015
Last UpdatedDecember 15, 2015

"As the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries for older adults, falls are one of the most common and significant health issues facing people aged 65 years or older (Schneider, Shubert and Harmon 2010). Moreover, the rate of falls increases with age (Dykes et al. 2010). Older adults are five times more likely to be hospitalized for fall-related injuries than any other cause-related injury. It is estimated that one in every three adults over 65 will fall each year (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2012). In those over age 80, the rate of falls increases to fifty percent (Doherty et al. 2009). Falls are also associated with substantial cost and resource use, approaching $30,000 per fall hospitalization (Woolcott et al. 2011). Identifying at-risk patients is the most important part of management, as applying preventive measures in this vulnerable population can have a profound effect on public health (al-Aama 2011). Family physicians have a pivotal role in screening older patients for risk of falls, and applying preventive strategies for patients at risk (al-Aama 2011).

The risk of falling is slightly greater in the inpatient setting (Clyburn and Heydemann 2011). A recent study found that specialized inpatient fall prevention initiatives were associated with a significant reduction in fall and fall-related injury rates (Weinberg et al. 2011). The results of this study show the importance of persistent quality improvement interventions with respect to falls. The authors stated that enhanced safety awareness and accountability were both instrumental in the success of the program (Weinberg et al. 2011). Another recent study calculated the number needed to treat (NNT) to prevent one fall as 32 for a single intervention compared with seven for a multidisciplinary intervention (Hanley, Silke and Murphy 2010). With such a low NNT, this measure has the opportunity to have high impact."