When Is a Fall a Serious Injury?

In many cases, a fall is not a serious problem. It may cause a few bumps and bruises that heal by themselves within a matter of days. But for some patients, injuries from falls can lead to hospitalizations, long-term disability, or even death. It’s important to know when to seek emergency care at Riverside Community Hospital.

When Serious Injuries Are Evident
A fall can cause a wide range of injuries, most notably fractures and head injuries. An emergency medicine physician can diagnose, stabilize, and treat patients who have sustained bone fractures and concussions, as well as less severe injuries like sprains. Bone fractures are generally indicated by an inability to use or place weight on the affected body part. Patients may feel intense pain and notice swelling or signs of deformity. Head injuries can be less obvious, since they do not always involve bleeding lacerations of the head. A concussion occurs when the brain moves around inside the skull, striking the interior walls of the skull and inflicting damage. This can cause problems such as dizziness, loss of consciousness, and confusion.

When It Affects a Pediatric or Geriatric Patient
Unfortunately, not all patients are able to clearly articulate their symptoms. When a young child falls, it’s wise to take the precautionary measure of bringing him or her to the ER—just in case. The ER physician can determine if the child has sustained internal injuries. Seniors are at a particularly high risk of falls, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fewer than half of seniors who fall inform a doctor. Since seniors have a higher risk of bone fractures due to osteoporosis, it’s advisable for them to seek a medical evaluation after every fall.

When It’s a Fall from an Elevated Position
Even when an individual has an average risk of sustaining serious injuries from a fall, a fall from an elevation can inflict considerable damage such as internal bleeding. Internal injuries may be indicated by dizziness, fainting, lightheadedness, and pain. For individuals who are taking blood-thinning medications, it’s particularly important to seek emergency medical care when internal injuries are suspected.

If you or a loved one is experiencing a true medical emergency, please call 911 without delay. For non-emergent inquiries about the medical services available in Riverside, call a registered nurse at (951) 788-3463. Riverside Community Hospital is a leading provider of high-quality emergency care, family medicine, and specialty medical services.