Shocking new data has revealed the exent of hospital stays among aged care residents, with the biggest cause of admissions found to be hip and thigh fractures, followed by injuries to the head.
The study, which was carried out by Monash University and focused on elderly Victorians, found that hip and thigh bone breaks accounted for 18.2 per cent of all injuries which resulted in aged care residents being admitted for treatment. Fractures were also found to be more than twice as common among patients with a diagnosis of dementia.
While the second most common injury, accounting for a total of 12.4 per cent of all admissions, were open wounds to the head. However, the prevalence of wounds to the head actually decreased significantly among dementia patients, with 6.1 per cent compared to 13.1 per cent among those without a diagnosis.
The findings also revealed that these injuries were most often the result of a fall, with stumbles accounting for a staggering 87.9 of bumps, breaks and bruises.
Following physical injuries, the second most common reason that dementia patients had to be rushed to hospital were found to be choking or suffocation related issues, which were significantly more common among patients with an official diagnosis, compared to those without.
The study, published in the most recent edition of Hazard, also revealed the sheer number of hospital admissions due to unintentional injuries with 14,896 people needing to be checked in for treatment over a ten year period between 2007 and 2017. While, unsurprisingly, the majority (64.8 per cent) were residents aged 85 and over, with 70 per cent of those being women.
It went on to examine the number of aged care residents who died in hospital after being admitted for an injury, revealing that 188 Victorian residents had passed away in the period between 2014/15 and 2016/17, with 63 per cent of those aged between 85 and 94, while 57 per cent accounted for female patients.
“The injuries resulting in death most commonly impacted upon the lower extremities and head, face, and neck,” the report states. “Almost half were fractures whilst intracranial injuries and open wounds each accounted for 12.2%of deaths. The majority of injuries with death occurring in the same episode were caused by falls, with a smaller proportion due to suffocation or choking.”
The report also went on to outline a number of recommendations intended to lower the number of aged care residents being admitted to hospital, including prioritising care for over-85s as they are the most commonly injured demographic. It also highlighted an increasing trend of older Australians choosing to remain in their own homes, as well as underlining the need to try and prevent aged care residents from falling and injuring themselves.
“Falls were the most common cause of injury admissions, and hip fractures and head injuries were the most commonly encountered injury types,” the report reads. “Furthermore, these injury types were also most commonly associated with in-hospital death among those admitted from residential aged care in relation to an injury.
“Falls prevention and post-fall management should therefore remain the main focus of injury prevention efforts in residential aged care.”