A taxonomy and economic consequences of nursing home falls

Sonja V. Sorensen, Gregory De Lissovoy, Dan Kunaprayoon, Barbara Resnick, Marcia F T Rupnow, Stephanie Studenski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Background: Falls are a primary cause of injury and disability in the nursing home environment and can be costly to treat. We propose a taxonomy of nursing home falls that accounts for both the severity of fall consequences and the duration of the treatment episode. No other systematic approach of this kind has been previously described. Methods: We defined a 9-level taxonomy of fall types and outcomes. Components of each fall category include resource use during the acute, convalescent, and long-term phases of treatment. Three variants of each category describe typical, best-case and worst-case fall episodes. Treatment costs were estimated for each fall category by applying unit costs from national databases and published sources to projected medical resource utilisation. Long-term costs reflect adjustment in Medicare per diem reimbursement rates associated with change in patient status subsequent to the fall. Results: The most common and least costly fall category was category 1 - noninjurious, which accounted for 30% of falls and a 1-year cost of $US319 per event (range $US71-550). The least common and most costly was fall category 9 - multiple injuries, which accounted for 1% of falls and a 1-year cost of $US22 368 (range $US9969-64 382). Conclusions: The falls taxonomy represents a unique approach to estimating the cost of nursing home falls and offers a tool for evaluating the cost-effectiveness of fall prevention strategies. A validation study should be performed to confirm the magnitude of fall frequency and cost estimates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)251-262
Number of pages12
JournalDrugs & Aging
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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