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Ann Emerg Med. 1990 Dec;19(12):1418-21.

Geriatric injury: an analysis of prehospital demographics, mechanisms, and patterns.

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  • 1Arizona Emergency Medicine Research Center, College of Medicine, University of Arizona, Tucson.



To evaluate emergency medical services (EMS) system use, injury mechanisms, and prehospital assessments among elderly victims of trauma.


We analyzed all prehospital data for injuries among patients 70 years old or older for whom 911 EMS dispatch was requested in a medium-sized metropolitan area during a 12-month period.


A total of 1,154 cases occurred (women, 65.1%), which represented 30.3% of all 911 dispatches involving elderly patients. Injury mechanisms were fall (60.7%), motor vehicle accident (MVA; 21.5%), fight (2.4%), accidental poisoning (2.3%), and choking (2.1%). Persons in their 90s had a lower frequency of MVAs (3.4%) than did younger patients (23.0%) (P less than .005). The most frequent injuries determined by prehospital assessment were head or face (25.1%), upper extremity (17.2%), hip (14.5%), lower extremity (13.8%), back (9.8%), and chest or abdomen (5.0%). The frequency of serious neurologic injuries was less for falls or MVAs than for other mechanisms (P less than .005). Suspected hip (P less than .001) and pelvic (P less than .005) injuries occurred more frequently during falls than during other mechanisms of injury, whereas back injuries occurred most frequently in MVAs (P less than .001). Seventy-one fall victims (10.1%) had suspected medical causes of their fall. Twelve patients (1.0%) were in cardiac arrest.


We report injury patterns and mechanisms among elderly victims of trauma presenting to an EMS system. A knowledge of these patterns will be useful to emergency physicians and EMS administrators.

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