Seniors at high risk of falls: Clinical and economic studies

Falls among older people are a major health problem. In Canada, hospital emergency departments report that 86 per cent of seniors’ injury-related admissions are due to falls, and individuals who present to an emergency department after one fall are at particularly high risk of falling again and incurring significant injuries. Current practice guidelines encourage a sophisticated and costly program to prevent subsequent (secondary) falls, including referrals to physiotherapy, ophthalmology, family practice and occupational therapy. However, despite the proven effectiveness of this approach, current “real life” practices throughout BC do not generally follow these guidelines, and the outcomes – both physical and economic – have not been studied in a Canadian context. Working within VGH’s Falls Prevention Clinic, Jennifer Davis is conducting the first Canadian randomized controlled trial to compare secondary falls and fall rate between seniors receiving “gold standard” care at the Clinic versus those receiving the standard of care with their GP. She will also detail health resource utilization for all study participants in order to analyze the cost-effectiveness of the Clinic intervention versus the standard of care.