The Cost of Medical Injuries for Older Adults

One fifth of Medicare recipients sustained medical injuries

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Sometimes, medical treatment comes with unanticipated complications. These medical injuries can pose a significant threat to health.

Researchers looked at data from thousands of Medicare recipients to analyze the frequency of medical injuries, or complications that stem from treating a health problem.

These researchers found that almost one in five patients sustained medical injuries.

Having more chronic illnesses made participants more likely to have an adverse medical event.

Additionally, Medicare expenses rose sharply when recipients experienced a medical injury.

"Talk to your healthcare provider about avoiding medical injuries."

Dr. Mary Carter, of the Gerontology Program and College of Health Professions at Towson University in Maryland, led this study.

Adverse medical events, also called AMEs or medical injuries, are health problems that occur as a result of medical care.

This study examined the long-term effects of serious medical injuries among older adults on Medicare, a public health insurance program for older adults.

The researchers used data from 12,541 Medicare recipients between 1998 and 2005. The recipients were, on average, 76 years old.

The researchers determined which recipients had experienced a medical injury and determined how severe it was.

Through statistical analysis, the researchers were able to analyze the health impact of the participants' medical injuries.

The researchers found that 19 percent of the participants, or 2,408 participants, experienced at least one adverse medical event during the course of the study.

Of the total medical injuries, 62 percent occurred outside of hospital care.

Medicare recipients with more pre-existing conditions and greater difficulty performing activities of daily living were more likely than their counterparts to sustain a medical injury.

The researchers found that, with each additional chronic condition, the risk of a medical injury increased by 27 percent.

For each additional month of age, participants were 1 percent more likely to have a medical injury.

Among participants who had medical injuries, only 55 percent survived to the end of the study, compared with 80 percent of participants without a medical injury.

The researchers also discovered that healthcare costs for participants rose by 926 percent during quarters with an adverse medical event.

The authors of the study concluded that medical injuries pose a significant risk to the health of older adults.

These authors suggested that efforts should be taken to reduce adverse medical events among older adults.

The study was published on May 27 in Injury Prevention.

The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health and National Institute on Aging. The authors disclosed no competing interests.

Review Date: 
May 27, 2014
Last Updated:
May 29, 2014