Falls: When To Go To The Emergency Room

FallsFirst, know that many falls are minor and therefore do not result in injury. However, 20 percent of falls are serious, resulting in a head injury or a broken bone.

Falls can result in various types of fractures, including broken wrists and arms, hips and ankles. Falls are very serious when they result in a head injury like a concussion or other serious brain injury. Any bleeding injury resulting from a fall should immediately be seen by emergency room physicians. Bleeding injuries can be much worse if the person is on blood thinner medication.

Although anyone can suffer a serious fall, the issue is most prevalent in the elderly population. Millions of elderly falls are treated in ERs each year. Over 25 percent of people over age 65 have suffered a fall. The problem is that falling once will double your chances of falling again. The other problem is that most people never disclose to their doctor that they’ve fallen.

Each year, nearly 3 million people are treated in ERs around the country for fall injuries. Of those about 25 percent of the patients are hospitalized because the fall is serious enough, usually a broken hip or a head injury. In fact, nearly 100 percent of elderly hip fractures are caused by falling. If the person is experiencing any pain in any bone or joint, it is best to err on the side of caution and make a visit to the ER.

Regarding head injuries, falls are the number one cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) seen and treated in emergency rooms. If the person fell and hit their head, always go to the emergency room. Falling can cause internal brain bleeding that is very serious and needs immediate treatment. It is definitely better to be safe than sorry.

Sometimes, there are obvious injuries from a fall—a visibly broken bone, an open wound or an apparent head injury. But many falls often cause internal injuries that are difficult to see. Among these are wrist fractures, hip fractures, spine fractures, broken ribs or even a pelvic fracture.

If there is any doubt, make an emergency room visit so that a qualified health care professional can perform a thorough assessment and examination to make sure you are safe and sound.

There are several risk factors that make people more prone to falls.

  • Lower body weakness
  • Brittle bones
  • Balancing or walking difficulties
  • Medications that have a sedative effect and make the person unsteady
  • Poor vision
  • Poor footwear
  • Foot pain which makes the person unsteady
  • Dehydration
  • Home safety hazards like electrical wires, rugs and broken stairs or steps that are trip and fall hazards

In ERs, doctors determine that most falls are caused by a combination of the risk factors above.

Surepoint Emergency Center is open 24 hours a day and is located at I-35E and Loop 288 on the east side of the highway. At Surepoint, you are seen by a doctor within 5 minutes of your arrival. There is no waiting like in the hospital emergency room when you are sick.