CONTACT: Seth Boffeli, (608) 266-1683
REPORT: FALLS ARE NOW THE MOST COMMON CAUSE OF
INJURY-RELATED DEATHS IN WISCONSIN
MADISON—State health officials today reported
that deaths from falls have surpassed both motor vehicle crashes and
suicide as the most common cause of injury related deaths in Wisconsin.
According to the new report, The Burden of Falls in Wisconsin,
unintentional falls caused 918 deaths compared to 581 deaths caused by
motor vehicle crashes.
"People know that car crashes kill, but may not think about
falls," said Department of Health Services Secretary Karen
Timberlake. "With more deaths associated with falls than with car
crashes, it's clear we have a lot of work to do."
According to the report, serious injuries resulting from unintentional
falls crossed several demographic lines. While a large majority of
fall-related deaths (87%) and inpatient hospitalizations (70%) involved
seniors, fall-related emergency department visit rates for young males age
14 and younger was nearly identical to that of males 65 and older.
Other report highlights include:
- Hospitalizations and emergency department visits due to falls result
in $800 million in hospital charges each year in Wisconsin.
- More than 70% of the costs for fall-related hospitalizations and
emergency department visits are paid by government insurance programs
such as Medicare and Medicaid.
- Some 40% of those admitted to a nursing home had a fall in the 30
days prior to admission.
"It is time to get serious about the significant impact of falls
in Wisconsin and the only way to do it is through prevention. Traffic
deaths didn't go down on their own, they went down thanks to prolonged
efforts on motor vehicle and highway safety. We need the same effort on
falls prevention," Timberlake added.
Both the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) and the UW-Madison School
of Medicine and Public Health contributed to the report. Dr. Steve
Hargarten, Emergency Medicine Physician and Director of the Injury
Research Center at MCW added, "There is evidence that communities,
health care organizations and public health agencies can effectively
reduce falls; however, we need a committed statewide effort in Wisconsin
to make an impact."
Dr. Jane Mahoney, Associate Professor of Geriatrics at the UW-Madison
and Executive Director of the new Wisconsin Institute on Healthy Aging has
recommended the following prevention efforts for Wisconsin seniors.
- Begin a regular exercise program to improve your balance
- Have your health care provider review your medicines
- Have your vision checked
- Make your home safer
Dr. Mahoney cautions that improving your homes safety is not enough and
a combination of these four strategies is most effective to reduce your
risk of a fall.
For additional information about fall prevention or programs in your
Local/tribal aging units - http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/aging/contacts/coagof.htm
ADRC - http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/ltcare/adrc/
CDC - http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/index.html
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April 18, 2013