OBJECTIVE. Falls are a common cause of emergency department (ED) visits in the United States. We evaluated trends in CT utilization for adult fall patients in the United States from 2001 to 2010. MATERIALS AND METHODS. Using the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, we identified all visits from 2001 to 2010 of adult patients presenting to EDs after falls. This database surveys approximately 500 EDs annually for 4 weeks, providing national estimates on ED resource utilization and outcomes. We studied trends in CT utilization and proportion of visits with life-threatening conditions (intracranial hemorrhage, organ laceration, axial skeletal fractures) after falls. We also studied the association between CT utilization rates and demographic characteristics and admission status. RESULTS. A total of 22,166 unweighted observations representing 73,241,368 visits were identified. The proportion of adult fall patient visits during which CT was performed increased from 11.4% in 2001 to 28.0% in 2010 (p < 0.0001), whereas the proportion of adult fall visits with life-threatening conditions increased from 5.7% to 8.2% (p < 0.0001). On adjusted analysis (adjusting for life-threatening condition and demographic variables), each successive year was independently associated with CT utilization (odds ratio, 1.21 [95% CI, 1.21-1.21]). The odds of CT utilization in 2010 compared with 2001 were 2.62 (95% CI, 2.61-2.62). CONCLUSION. There was a 2.5-fold increase in CT utilization among adult fall patient visits from 2001 to 2010. When demographic and clinical variables were controlled for, increasing year was independently associated with CT utilization. These findings suggest that CT may be overutilized among adult fall patients.
- CT utilization
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