Fall injuries (FI) are a priority for public health planning. Syndromic surveillance (SS) is used to detect outbreaks, environmental exposures, and bioterrorism in real time. Since information is gathered on patients, the utility of using this system for FI should be evaluated.
Strategies to integrate FI medical and SS data were compared using a cohort versus case control (CC) study design.
The CC study was accurate 77.7% (57.7-91.3) of the time versus 100% for a cohort design. The CC study design found FI increased for older age groups, female gender, November, and December months. Dates with any freezing temperature had a higher case fatality rate. Repeat acute care visits increased the risk of FI diagnosis by over 6% and trended upward with each visit (R=.333, p<.001).
The CC diagnostic quality of FI were better for age and gender than for area. The CC study found the indicators of increased risk of FI including: Freezing temperature, repeat acute care visits, older age groups, female gender, November, and December months. A gradient of increasing odds of FI with the number of acute care visits provides proof that community fall prevention programs should focus on those most likely to fall. A CC design of SS data can quickly identify indicators of FI with a lower accuracy but with less cost than a full cohort study, thus providing a method to focus local public health interventions.