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Fall-related deaths among older adults in British Columbia: cause and effect of policy change
  1. Aayushi Joshi1,
  2. Fahra Rajabali1,
  3. Kate Turcotte1,
  4. M Denise Beaton1,2,
  5. Ian Pike1,3
  1. 1BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit, BC Children's Hospital Research Institute, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  2. 2BC Centre for Disease Control, Provincial Health Services Authority, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  3. 3Department of Pediatrics, UBC, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Ms Fahra Rajabali, BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit, BC Children's Hospital Research Institute, Vancouver, BC V5Z 4H4, Canada; frajabali{at}


Background The British Columbia Coroners Service implemented a policy in 2010 advising the reclassification of underlying causes of deaths due to falls from ‘natural’ to ‘accidental’. This study investigates whether observed data trends reflect this change in practice, are artefacts of inconsistent reporting, or indicate a true increase in fall-related deaths.

Methods Mortality data were analysed from 2004 to 2017 for cases with International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, 10th Revision fall codes W00–W19, occurring among adults aged 60 years and older.

Results From 2010 to 2012, accidental fall-related deaths increased among those aged 80 years and older, followed by an increase in natural deaths with fall as the contributing cause.

Conclusions Changes in reporting resulting from the 2010 policy change were observed; however, post-2012 data indicate a reversion to previous reporting practices.

  • fall
  • older people
  • mortality
  • policy
  • coding systems

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  • Funding statement The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval This study received ethics approval from the University of British Columbia Children’s & Women’s Health Centre of British Columbia Research Ethics Board (cert number CW17-0108/H17-00859).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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