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The extra resource burden of in-hospital falls: a cost of falls study

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In-hospital falls remain a major cause of harm in acute care hospitals; a multicentre study estimated that falls comprised about 40% of all reported patient incidents (11 766 of 28 998) in the British National Health System.1 They result in additional hospital costs because of their impact on hospital length of stay (LOS) and use of resources.2 Previous studies of the costs of falls have had methodological limitations — small samples from single hospitals, capture of fall events using single sources (resulting in measurement bias),35 modelled costs based on diagnosis-related group or per diem costs (known to be crude estimates of cost), or costing data more than 10 years old. Poor capture of fall events will result in inaccurate estimates of cost,6 while modelled costs are unlikely to reflect the true total cost attributable to the fall. Further, most studies have focused on falls resulting in serious injury,7,8 underestimating the total financial burden of in-hospital falls.

In Australia, only one study has examined the differences in the demand on resources by fallers and non-fallers in the acute hospital setting.9 This retrospective…