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The Potential to Reduce Falls and Avert Costs by Clinically Managing Fall Risk
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  • Alternative Title:
    Am J Prev Med
  • Description:
    INTRODUCTION Falls often cause severe injuries and are one of the most costly health conditions among older adults. Yet, many falls are preventable. The number of preventable medically treated falls and associated costs averted were estimated by applying evidence-based falls interventions in clinical settings. DESIGN A peer-review literature review was conducted in 2017 using literature published between 1994 and 2017, the authors estimated the prevalence of seven fall risk factors and the effectiveness of seven evidence-based falls interventions. PARTICIPANTS Older Americans aged 65 and older living in the community. INTERVENTIONS Tai chi, Otago, medication management, vitamin D supplementation, expedited first eye cataract surgery, single vision distance lenses for outdoor activities, and home modifications led by an occupational therapist. MEASURES The authors estimated the number of older adults who would be eligible to receive one of seven falls interventions. Then, using the reported effectiveness of each intervention, the number of medically treated falls that could be prevented and the associated direct medical costs averted was calculated. RESULTS Depending upon the size of the eligible population, implementing a single intervention could prevent between 9,563–45,164 medically treated falls and avert $94–$442 million in direct medical costs annually. The interventions with the potential to help the greatest number of older adults were those that provided home modification delivered by an occupational therapist ($38.2 million), and recommended daily vitamin D supplements ($16.7 million). CONCLUSIONS This report is the first to estimate the number of medically treated falls that could be prevented and the direct medical costs that could be adverted. Preventing falls can benefit older adults substantially by improving their health, independence, and quality of life.
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