A paramedic’s role in reducing number of falls and fall-related emergency service use by over 65s: a systematic review

Mhairi Bonner, Matt Capsey, Jo Batey

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Background: Around 10–25% of emergency calls for adults aged over 65 are attributed to falls. Regardless of whether injuries are caused, quality of life is often affected by fear of falling, leading to reduced confidence and activity, negatively impacting mobility and risking depression and isolation. Ambulance service staff are well placed to identify falls risk factors so patients can be directed to falls prevention services. This article aims to determine how the referral by paramedics of uninjured falls patients to community falls services may reduce future falls and emergency services use.
Methods: The CINAHL, MEDLINE and AMED electronic databases, grey literature sources and reference lists of relevant papers were systematically searched to identify primary research of an experimental design. Studies were eligible if they included elderly patients, aged over 65, who had received a paramedic response following a fall, were found to be uninjured and who were referred to local falls services rather than being transported to hospital. The study outcomes were required to include the rate of subsequent falls and emergency service use.
Results: Four papers from three studies were included in the review following quality assessment. Results were not always statistically significant but showed a reduction in subsequent falls, particularly in the high-risk population, and in emergency service call-outs. A consistent positive effect was seen on the patients’ well-being and independence related to activities of daily living across the studies.
Conclusions: The relationship between paramedics and local falls services has changed the pre-hospital management of these patients. Generally, access to a falls-specific care package has proved beneficial in supporting independence and reducing unnecessary transport to hospital. Further research into the uptake of this care pathway by paramedics now it is more established may be useful, as would research into barriers to adherence of the elderly to such an intervention.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-52
JournalBritish Paramedic Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2021


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