About 20 percent more emergency department visits by older patients would be attributed to falls if hospital screening took into account patients’ chief complaint in addition to diagnosis codes, an AHRQ-funded study concluded. An analysis of electronic health records at an academic medical center during a 33-month study period identified about 4,400 fall-related visits among people 65 or older. More than 850 of those were not classified as fall related, however, because visits were recorded with ICD-9 codes alone. Those patients whose visits were not classified as fall related were less likely to be admitted but were associated with higher baseline comorbidity, which suggests that defining falls based only on coding underestimates the true burden of falls. Including patients’ chief complaint along with diagnosis codes will help identify more people in the ED who have fallen, which will help guide future research and policy, as well as provide clinical care for the most at-risk population, authors concluded.
- Using Chief Complaint in Addition to Diagnosis Codes to Identify Falls in the Emergency Department. Journal of American Geriatric Society. June 21, 2017.