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JAMA Netw Open. 2019 May 3;2(5):e194276. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.4276.

Posthospital Fall Injuries and 30-Day Readmissions in Adults 65 Years and Older.

Author information

Department of Systems, Populations and Leadership, University of Michigan School of Nursing, Ann Arbor.
Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Care Center (GRECC), VA Medical Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Division of Geriatric and Palliative Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Division of Geriatrics, Department of Internal Medicine, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut.
School of Public Health, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.
Department of Biostatistics, University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor.
Veterans Affairs Center for Clinical Management and Research (CCMR), VA Medical Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.



Falls are common among older adults, particularly those with previous falls and cognitive impairment and in the postdischarge period. Hospitals have financial incentives to reduce both inpatient falls and hospital readmissions, yet little is known about whether fall-related injuries (FRIs) are common diagnoses for 30-day hospital readmissions.


To compare fall-related readmissions with other leading rehospitalization diagnoses, including for patients at greatest risk of readmission.

Design, Setting, and Participants:

Retrospective cohort study of the Hospital Cost and Utilization Project's Nationwide Readmissions Database of nationally representative US hospital discharges among Medicare beneficiaries aged 65 years and older from January 1, 2013, to November 30, 2014. The prevalence and ranking of FRIs compared with other diagnostic factors for 30-day unplanned hospital-wide readmissions were determined, overall and for 2 acute geriatric cohorts, classified by fall injury or cognitive impairment diagnoses observed at the index admission. Analyses were also stratified by patient discharge disposition (home, home health care, skilled nursing facility). Analyses were conducted from February 1, 2018, to February 26, 2018.

Main Outcomes and Measures:

Unplanned hospital-wide readmission within 30 days of discharge.


From the database, 8 382 074 eligible index admissions were identified, including 746 397 (8.9%) in the FRI cohort and 1 367 759 (16.3%) in the cognitive impairment cohort. Among the entire 8 382 074-discharge cohort, mean (SD) age was 77.7 (7.8) years and 4 736 281 (56.5%) were female. Overall, 1 205 962 (14.4%) of index admissions resulted in readmission, with readmission rates of 12.9% for those with a previous fall and 16.0% for patients with cognitive impairment. Overall, FRIs ranked as the third-leading readmission diagnosis, accounting for 60 954 (5.1%) of all readmission diagnoses. Within the novel acute geriatric cohorts, FRIs were the second-leading diagnosis for readmission both for patients with an FRI at index admission (10.3% of all readmission diagnoses) and those with cognitive impairment (7.0% of all readmission diagnoses). For those with an FRI at index admission and discharged home or to home health care, FRIs were the leading readmission diagnosis.

Conclusions and Relevance:

This study found that posthospital FRIs were a leading readmission diagnosis, particularly for patients originally admitted with a FRI or cognitive impairment. Targeting at-risk hospitalized older adults, particularly those discharged to home or home health care, is an underexplored, cost-effective mechanism with potential to reduce readmissions and improve patient care.

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