Objective—To compare risks for falls and their consequences among four major race/ethnic groups in California.
Methods—Cases are 104 902 hospital discharges of California residents with a same level fall injury as the principal external cause of injury. Included are all discharges for a first hospitalization for a given injury in any California non-federal hospital from 1995–97. Analysis includes crude and age standardized rates to describe risks, diagnoses, and consequences.
Results—Rates per 100 000 for same level hospitalized fall injuries for whites (161) are distinctively higher than for blacks (64), Hispanics (43), and Asian/Pacific Islanders (35). Whites are more likely to have a fracture diagnosis and to be discharged to long term care rather than home, suggesting a poorer outcome or greater severity. Same level falls absorb a large proportion of hospital resources directed to the treatment of injuries.
Conclusions—In a four way comparison among race/ethnic groups, whites are distinguished by their high incidence, rates of fracture, and unfavorable discharge status. Prevention, particularly aimed at whites, has potential to improve health and save treatment resources.