|Date:||4 May 2015|
1Department of Forensic Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
OBJECTIVES: To describe the nature and extent of external-cause deaths of residents of nursing homes in Victoria, Australia.
DESIGN: A retrospective cohort study of all decedents using routinely collected data contained within the National Coronial Information System.
SETTING: Accredited nursing homes in Victoria.
PARTICIPANTS: Nursing home residents who had died from external causes and whose deaths were reported to the Coroners Court between July 1, 2000, and December 31, 2012.
MEASUREMENTS: Basic descriptive analysis was conducted to measure frequencies and proportion of exposures within each outcome group, and rates were calculated using population data.
RESULTS: One thousand two hundred ninety-six external cause deaths of nursing home residents were identified. Deaths were due to falls (n = 1,155, 89.1%), choking (n = 89, 6.9%), suicide (n = 17, 1.3%), complications of clinical care (n = 8, 0.6%) and resident-on-resident assault (n = 7, 0.5%). Deaths occurred more frequently in women (n = 814, 62.8%), in keeping with the sex distribution in nursing homes, and residents aged 85 and older (n = 923, 71.2%). The number of inquests held to investigate a death as a matter of public interest was small (n = 24, 1.9%).
CONCLUSION: A significant proportion of nursing home resident deaths are from external causes and are potentially preventable. A shift in community attitudes is required toward an understanding that premature death of a resident from injury is not a natural part of life.
© 2015, Copyright the Authors Journal compilation © 2015, The American Geriatrics Society.