Falls

Falls are not a normal part of aging. A fall is a symptom, and emergency physicians need to assess both the cause and the consequences of the fall. The causes of a fall may include acute or chronic diseases, medications, and environmental factors.22 Consequences of a fall include injury and fear of falling, resulting in a decrease in activities. A fall can represent a sentinel event in an older person's life and result in a downward spiral of decreased activities, leading to death. As many as 50 percent of older patients admitted to the hospital after a fall die within 1 year. An emergency physician obtains the history of what caused the fall and determines whether further emergency department screening tests (electrocardiography, computed tomography, laboratory tests, social service consultation, etc.) will be done to evaluate the cause.22 The patient should then be informed about fall assessment programs that decrease the incidence and morbidity from falls.

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