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Prevalence and cost of imaging in inpatient falls: the rising cost of falling

Authors Fields J, Alturkistani T, Kumar N, Kanuri A, Salem D, Munn S, Blazey-Martin D

Received 31 December 2014

Accepted for publication 12 March 2015

Published 3 June 2015 Volume 2015:7 Pages 281—286


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Giorgio Lorenzo Colombo

Jessica Fields,1 Tahani Alturkistani,2 Neal Kumar,3 Arjun Kanuri,3 Deeb N Salem,1 Samson Munn,2 Deborah Blazey-Martin1

1Department of Medicine, Tufts Medical Center, Boston, MA, USA; 2Department of Radiology, Tufts Medical Center, Boston, MA, USA; 3Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA

Objective: To quantify the type, prevalence, and cost of imaging following inpatient falls, identify factors associated with post-fall imaging, and determine correlates of positive versus negative imaging.
Design: Single-center retrospective cohort study of inpatient falls. Data were collected from the hospital's adverse event reporting system, DrQuality. Age, sex, date, time, and location of fall, clinical service, Morse Fall Scale/fall protocol, admitting diagnosis, and fall-related imaging studies were reviewed. Cost included professional and facilities fees for each study.
Setting: Four hundred and fifteen bed urban academic hospital over 3 years (2008–2010).
Patients: All adult inpatient falls during the study period were included. Falls experienced by patients aged <18 years, outpatient and emergency patients, visitors to the hospital, and staff were excluded.
Measurements and main results: Five hundred and thirty inpatient falls occurred during the study period, average patient age 60.7 years (range 20–98). More than half of falls were men (55%) and patients considered at risk of falls (56%). Falls were evenly distributed across morning (33%), evening (34%), and night (33%) shifts. Of 530 falls, 178 (34%) patients were imaged with 262 studies. Twenty percent of patients imaged had at least one positive imaging study attributed to the fall and 82% of studies were negative. Total cost of imaging was $160,897, 63% ($100,700) from head computed tomography (CT).
Conclusion: Inpatient falls affect patients of both sexes, all ages, occur at any time of day and lead to expensive imaging, mainly from head CTs. Further study should be targeted toward clarifying the indications for head CT after inpatient falls and validating risk models for positive and negative imaging, in order to decrease unnecessary imaging and thereby limit unnecessary cost and radiation exposure.

Keywords: inpatients, falls, diagnostic imaging, health care costs, incident reporting

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