13 people a day die after a fall

© CBS / Nikki van Toorn
In 2018, a total of 4,628 people in the Netherlands died due to an accidental fall, nearly 600 more than in the previous year. This comes down to 13 fatal falls per day on average. Over three-quarters of the victims were at least 80 years old. The number of deaths due to accidental falls has risen in recent years, which is not only a consequence of an ageing population. This is reported by Statistics Netherlands (CBS).

Accidental falls are accidents caused by unintentional falling, tripping or slipping of a person. Not included are falls involving a transport vehicle such as a bicycle, (light) moped or mobility scooter. These are classified as transport accidents. Last year, a total of 5,863 inhabitants of the Netherlands died in a fatal accident; 8 in 10 of these accidents concerned accidental falls. The victims died within 30 days from the impact of the fall.

Deaths due to accidental falls (x 1,000)
JaarMenWomen
20000.6351.040
20010.7691.315
20020.6741.156
20030.7311.226
20040.7321.107
20050.8061.155
20060.8291.189
20070.8351.184
20080.8381.255
20090.9181.299
20100.9751.328
20110.9891.431
20121.1071.688
20131.2081.676
20141.2621.768
20151.4182.068
20161.6172.266
20171.6232.409
20181.8872.741

Mainly seniors

Last year, 1,887 men and 2,741 women died as a result of a falling accident. The majority were over the age of 80, namely 69 percent of the male victims and 84 percent of the female victims. One-quarter of the men and 43 percent of the women were 90 years or older.

Furthermore, the number of fatal falls has risen most rapidly among the over-90s. Between 2014 and 2018, it went up by 67 percent: from 991 in 2014 to 1,652 in 2018. Adjusted for the population’s changing age composition, the increase is highest in this group as well.

Deaths due to accidental falls, 2018
GeslachtUnder 60 yrs60 to 69 yrs70 to 79 yrs80 to 89 yrs90 yrs and over
Men98155340821473
Women458430011331179

Rise not only due to ageing

The rising number of people dying from a deadly fall is not only attributable to ageing of the population. Even after correction for the changing age structure of the population (age standardisation), an increase is seen among both men and women over the last four years in particular. Relative to 2014, fall-related mortality in 2018 was up by 29 percent up among men and by 45 percent among women.

Deaths due to accidental falls (per 100 thousand inhabitants (age-standardised))
JaarMenWomen
198015.732.9
198117.331.0
198215.429.3
198314.825.9
198414.925.2
198514.422.5
198613.822.3
198713.621.8
198813.920.6
198915.122.5
199014.021.2
199113.821.8
199212.720.7
199312.819.0
199412.319.5
199512.818.3
199613.018.3
199712.417.1
199812.116.7
199912.619.5
200013.117.3
200115.521.7
200213.618.6
200314.119.6
200413.917.5
200514.917.7
200615.017.9
200714.517.3
200814.317.9
200915.018.1
201015.418.0
201115.018.9
201216.121.7
201317.021.2
201417.121.8
201518.525.0
201620.326.9
201719.728.2
201822.131.6

Rising mortality also due to “late effects” of a fall

Last year, 714 people in the Netherlands died due to “late effects” of a fall; 60 percent had broken their hip during the accident. These victims passed away more than 30 days after the fall as a result of complications (and are not included in the 4,628 accidental fall fatalities). Within a period of ten years, the number of deceased persons due to “late effects” of a fall has nearly doubled.

More older women than men end up in hospital after falling

The annual number of hospital admissions due to accidental falls fluctuated between 66 thousand and 70 thousand (2013-2017). There was no clear decline or increase during these years. In 4 out of 10 inpatient hospitalisations after a fall, patients were 80 years or older, with more women than men being hospitalised. In 2017, out of every 100 thousand women aged 80 years and over, 3,693 ended up in hospital after falling; this was 2,487 among men.

Hospitalisations after accidental falls (per 100 thousand inhabitants)
Leeftijd201720152013
Men, 65 to 79 yrs596573528
Women, 65 to 79 yrs820836832
Men, 80 yrs and over248724372243
Women, 80 yrs and over369338743678

In around half of the hospitalisations, the cause of the fall is known. Among the over-80s, this is usually slipping or tripping, followed by a fall from bed and fall from stairs. Women are more likely to be hospitalised than men after slipping or tripping; nearly twice as much in 2017. In that year, 10.4 percent of men and 5.3 percent of women aged 85 and over died during inpatient hospitalisation following a falling accident.