Geriatric injury: An analysis of prehospital demographics, mechanisms, and patterns

Daniel W. Spaite, Elizabeth A. Criss, Terence D. Valenzuela, Harvey W. Meislin, John Ross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Study objective: To evaluate emergency medical services (EMS) system use, injury mechanisms, and prehospital assessments among elderly victims of trauma. Design: We analyzed all prehospital data for injuries among patients 70 years old or older for whom 911 EMS dispatch was requested in a medium-sized metropolitan area during a 12-month period. Results: A total of 1,154 cases occurred (women, 65.1%), which represented 30.3% of all 911 dispatches involving elderly patients. Injury mechanisms were fall (60.7%), motor vehicle accident (MVA; 21.5%), fight (2.4%), accidental poisoning (2.3%), and choking (2.1%). Persons in their 90s had a lower frequency of MVAs (3.4%) than did younger patients (23.0%) (P < .005). The most frequent injuries determined by prehospital assessment were head or face (25.1%), upper extremity (17.2%), hip (14.5%), lower extremity (13.8%), back (9.8%), and chest or abdomen (5.0%). The frequency of serious neurologic injuries was less for falls or MVAs than for other mechanisms (P < .005). Suspected hip (P < .001) and pelvic (P < .005) injuries occurred more frequently during falls than during other mechanisms of injury, whereas back injuries occurred most frequently in MVAs (P < .001). Seventy-one fall victims (10.1%) had suspected medical causes of their fall. Twelve patients (1.0%) were in cardiac arrest. Conclusion: We report injury patterns and mechanisms among elderly victims of trauma presenting to an EMS system. A knowledge of these patterns will be useful to emergency physicians and EMS administrators.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1418-1421
Number of pages4
JournalAnnals of emergency medicine
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1990


  • geriatrics
  • injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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