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180-Day functional decline among older patients attending an emergency department after a fall

      Highlights

      • Functional outcomes of older adults after a fall-related ED visit are less well understood.
      • Three out of 4 older patients attended for a fall in EDs had some degree of functional impairment before the event.
      • One out of 3 cases had a clinically significant functional decline at 180 days.
      • Age ≥85 years, fall-related fracture, hospitalization and post-fall syndrome were associated with 180-day poor outcome.

      Abstract

      Objectives

      To determine functional changes and factors affecting 180-day functional prognosis among older patients attending a hospital emergency department (ED) after a fall.

      Study design

      Retrospective analysis from a prospective cohort study (FALL-ER Registry) spanning one year that included individuals aged ≥65 years attending four Spanish EDs after a fall. We collected 9 baseline and 6 fall-related factors.

      Main outcome measures

      Barthel Index (BI) was measured at baseline, discharge and 30, 90 and 180 days after the index fall. Absolute and relative BI changes were calculated. Absolute difference of ≥10 points between BI at baseline and at 180 days was considered a clinically significant functional decline.

      Results

      452 patients (mean age 80 ± 8 years; 70.8% women) were included. Baseline BI was 79.3 ± 23.1 points. Compared with baseline, functional status was significantly lower at the 4 follow-up time points (-8.7% at discharge; and −6.9%, −7.9% and −9.5% at 30, 90 and 180 days; p < 0.001 for all comparisons in relation to baseline; p = 0.001 for change over time). One hundred and thirty-three (29.6%) patients had a clinically significant functional decline at 180 days. Age ≥85 years (OR = 2.24, 95%CI 1.23–4.08; p = 0.008), fall-related fracture (OR = 2.45, 95%CI 1.43–4.28; p = 0.001), hospitalization (OR = 1.91; 95%CI 1.11–3.29; p = 0.019) and post-fall syndrome (OR = 1.77, 95%CI 1.13-2.77; p = 0.013) were independently associated with 180-day clinically significant functional decline.

      Conclusion

      Patients ≥65 years attending EDs after a fall experience a consistent and persistent negative impact on their functional status. Several factors may help identify patients at increased risk of functional impairment.

      Keywords

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