Falls are the leading cause of pediatric injury and account for the majority of emergency department injury visits, costing US $5 billion in medical costs annually. Epidemiology of pediatric falls has primarily been studied at single hospital centers and has not been analyzed statewide. We assessed pediatric falls across Maryland and geographically mapped them by census tract and block group.
The study used Maryland Health Services Cost Review Commission discharge data to retrospectively analyze the demographics and cross-sectional incidence rates of fall injuries in Maryland from 2013 to 2015. Geographical clusters were calculated for pediatric falls in Maryland and Baltimore City.
From 2013 to 2015, Maryland hospitals discharged 738,819 pediatric patients, of whom 77,113 had fall injuries. Falls were more prevalent among males (56%), white race (55%), and patients with public insurance (56%). Over this period, 2 children who presented with fall injuries died. The incidence of falls did not vary from 2013 (27,481 children) to 2014 (27,261) and 2015 (26,451). Mapping fall injuries across Maryland identified Baltimore City as the primary cluster and rural pockets as secondary clusters of high incidence rates. Baltimore City maps showed a stable high-incidence cluster in the southwest region across all 3 years.
Pediatric fall injuries comprise a large volume of emergency department visits yet have a low mortality. Geographic mapping shows that fall incidence varies across the state and persists over time. Statewide geographic information can be used to focus resource management and target prevention strategies.