ANN ARBOR--Falls are a leading cause of hospitalizations and emergency room visits among older adults, but until now, little was known about the relationship between falls and hospital readmissions.

A new University of Michigan study found that in people 65 or older, fall-related injuries within a month of hospital discharge ranked as high as the third-leading diagnosis for readmission.

The findings suggest that by emphasizing personalized fall prevention before discharge, especially for at-risk patients, hospitals could improve patients' recovery and mobility, and minimize costly fall-related penalties, said principal investigator Geoffrey Hoffman, an assistant professor at the U-M School of Nursing.

"Falls are a trifecta in terms of reasons why they need an increased focus," said Hoffman, who also is a member of the U-M Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation.

"They are highly prevalent, cause a lot of damage, including death, and they are preventable.

However, fall prevention is being left out of the discharge planning conversation and that needs to change."

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