FRIDAY, May 24, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Fall-related injuries are a major reason why seniors are readmitted to the hospital within a month after being discharged, a new study finds.
"Falls are a trifecta in terms of reasons why they need an increased focus," said principal investigator Geoffrey Hoffman, an assistant professor in the University of Michigan's School of Nursing. "They are highly prevalent, cause a lot of damage, including death, and they are preventable."
The analysis of two years of data showed that the overall U.S. hospital readmission rate among people 65 and older was 14%, with rates of 16% among those with mental impairment and 13% among those with a previous fall injury.
Overall, fall-related injuries within a month of hospital discharge were the third-leading cause of readmission. The risk was higher among patients already considered to be at risk for falls, and those who were discharged to their homes or home health care.
Fall-related injuries were the second-leading reason for readmission among patients with mental impairment whose initial hospitalization was fall-related.
Falls were the leading reason for readmission among patients whose initial hospitalization was fall-related and who were discharged to home, even if they had home health care.
The University of Michigan study suggests that by providing personalized fall prevention instruction before discharge, especially for at-risk patients, hospitals could improve older patients' recovery and mobility, according to Hoffman.
"However, fall prevention is being left out of the discharge planning conversation and that needs to change," he said in a university news release.
Proper education is crucial, agreed study senior author Lillian Min, an associate professor of geriatrics and palliative medicine.
"Discharge planners, doctors, patients and families should develop a personalized plan to balance increased mobility and fall prevention," she said. This can include community-based programs, home modifications and education.
The findings were published May 24 in the journal JAMA Network Open.
The U.S. National Institute on Aging has more about fall prevention.