Increase in Fall Accident Fatalities is Disturbing
Researchers at the John Hopkins School of Public Heath have found a sharp increase in the number of fatalities from accidental falls and poisonings, between 1995 and 2005.
These increases were part of a larger overall pattern, in which the number of people who died from unintended accidents increased by 11 percent over the study period. The study found increases in other unintended accident fatalities including drowning accidents, and deaths from burns and suffocation. However, it’s the increase in mortality rates from accidental poisonings and falls, that has drawn the highest attention.
Between 1999 and 2005, there was an increase of 36 percent in fall mortalities. Further, these increases were seen most significantly in whites above the age of 45. The mortality rates for white men increased by 28 percent in the 45-64 age group, and 38 percent in the 65+ age group. Among white women, the increase was much greater – an increase of 64 percent in the 45-64 age group, and an increase of 48 percent in the 65+ age group.
Poisoning deaths have increased by 104 percent for white males, and 172 percent for white females. The rates of poisoning deaths have also increased by 100 percent in Asian and Native American men between 45 and 64 years of age.
Why Have Fall Fatality Rates Increased?
The researchers have pointed to the abuse of prescription drugs as the most important factor in the increase in poisoning deaths. During the study period, the number of prescriptions for opioid analgesics increased, and this has contributed to the abuse of these drugs, and consequently, deaths from poisoning.
However, it’s been harder to understand why there has been such a sharp increase in the number of people, especially whites, dying in fall accidents. The researchers say that there may be more research needed to study and identify the causes for the increased mortality from falls.