The number of patients admitted to hospital after suffering a fall at home rose significantly during the first three waves of the pandemic – and the proportion who died also increased, a new report reveals today .
The audit was carried out on post-accident admissions to 26 hospitals.
It found the percentage of patients who suffered falls of less than two metres increased from 58pc in 2019 to 62pc in 2020.
The proportion of patients injured at home went up from 48pc in 2019 to 56pc in the first year of Covid-19 when people were told to stay at home and older generations were advised to “cocoon”.
The overall death rate among all patients treated in hospital after a serious accident remained at 5pc in 2019 and 2020.
But among those who were injured after a fall of less than two metres, the proportion who died rose from 59pc in 2019 to 64pc in 2020, up from 123 to 146.
The share of deaths among people who suffered a bigger fall also increased – from 11pc in 2019 to 16pc in 2020, rising from 22 to 36.
The report covering 2019-2020 was carried out by the National Office of Clinical Audit, which highlights a number of concerns in the care of injured patients including the low number who were received by a trauma team – just 8pc in 2019 and 9pc in 2020.
Also, as patients get older they are less likely to be “pre-alerted” – a situation whereby the ambulance service flags in advance it is bringing a patient to the emergency department, and highlights their injuries.
They are also less likely to be met by a trauma team or received by a senior clinician.
Overall, with fewer cars on the road there was a 10pc reduction in the number of major accident admissions during 2020, compared with 2019.
While car crashes on the roads went down, the proportion of accidents on farms and industrial sites slightly increased.
Louise Brent, audit manager, said: “There is a real opportunity for the public to use this information to ensure their homes are as safe as possible.”
A checklist to reduce the risk of falls includes advising people to check slippery or uneven footpaths, move clutter in the home, look out for hazards such as rugs, and ensure adequate lighting.
Items in the kitchen should be easy to reach, and steps/stepladders should be in good working order.
In the bathroom, make sure non-slip mats are available and install grab rails in baths and showers.
In the bedroom, check that a lamp or light is within easy reach and make sure the route to the bathroom is clear and easily visible.
If there is a need for a walking aid, remember to have it within easy reach.