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Gerontology. 1996;42(2):104-7.

An evaluation of risk factors for in-patient falls in acute and rehabilitation elderly care wards.

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Care of Older People, Whittington Hospital, London, UK.


Falls occurring in elderly in-patients during periods of hospitalization are common, and attempts have been made to predict and prevent them based on risk factor analysis. These have not looked extensively at specific elderly care wards. We have investigated in-patient falls in mixed acute and rehabilitation elderly care wards in a case-controlled study. Fifty fallers were paired with fifty non-fallers, and their risk factors for falling evaluated. Only three risk factors were significantly more common in the fallers. These were: a previous history of falls; the presence of confusion/disorientation, and needing help to toilet/incontinence/diarrhoea. Prediction of falls based on the presence of the first two of these risk factors gives a sensitivity of 68% and a specificity of 88%. A risk factor approach to the prediction of falls in an in-patient elderly care setting seems to be less practical than was previously hoped.

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