Mr John Cannell1, Mr Alex Wilson2
1Tasmanian Health Service North, Launceston, Australia, 2Ambulance Tasmania, Hobart, Australia
Whilst falls occur across the age spectrum, allied health staff are particularly involved in the minimization of harm and prevention of falls in the older population. Published literature reports that in the western world an average of 25% of over 60 year olds and 30% of over 65 year olds fall each year. One tenth of these falls result in people seeking assistance from a health professional.
Understanding the incidence of falls in older community dwelling Tasmanians is difficult. There are no published studies or reports. Whilst there are systems within healthcare settings to record and monitor the incidence there is no equivalent option for the community. As Ambulance Tasmania attends a proportion of community falls which require medical assistance and review, their clinical data provides insight into the incidence of injurious falls.
Tasmanian Paramedics record their assessment and client management in an electronic module called the Victorian Ambulance Clinical Information System (VACIS). This system is used in multiple states of Australia. Through application to Ambulance Tasmania, Tasmanian Health Services North has been able to access and analyse one year of de-identified case information. 10329 of the 72096 case notes for the 2016-17 financial year contained the words “fall” or “fell”.
Providing analysis and breakdown of these cases across the Tasmania will provide insight and assist service development to allied health professions. Rates by locality, region, age, transportation to hospital, are able to be accessed from the data. Using keyword searches, falls which involved sporting activities or modes of transport are able to be separated from mechanical or syncopal falls.
The incidence and consequences of falls in our ageing population is creating further pressure on our health system. Utilising the Ambulance Tasmania’s VACIS dataset will assist us to understand and plan for the health needs of our Tasmanian population.
John is the clinical lead physiotherapist for rehabilitation at the LGH. He has a been an active member of hospital and regional falls committees for over 10 years. John, like many allied health professions, is trying to move to a more proactive model of falls prevention. This presentation showcases a new initiative to share information which is able to guide our future health care service development.