Slips, Falls, and Other Accidents Send 2,600 Older Adults to ER Each Year

Elevators are considered one of the most safest modes of transportation. However, a new study has shown that they can pose a danger to elderly people due to the possibility of injuries and accidents.

Research has shown that more than 2,600 seniors end up in the emergency room each year due to an elevator-related injury.

More than half of all elevator-related injuries result from a fall, slip, or trip; only one-third are due to the elevator door closing on them.

In a press release, Greg Steele, Associate Professor of Epidemiology at Indiana University School of Medicine, stated that “Elevator-related injuries” are not accidental and can be easily prevented. Individuals of all ages, but especially those who are older with vision or balance problems, should not place an arm, leg, or walker in the path of an elevator door closing.

It’s believed to be the first large study on elevator-related injuries in older adults, researchers say.

An estimated 660,000 elevators are used by nearly 120 billion Americans each year in the United States. To safely move between floors, older adults more often use elevators than stairs.

Researchers say that misalignment between the elevator compartment’s floor and the hallway floor can cause falls. Falls are a leading cause of disability and death among the elderly.

Researchers analyzed data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to determine that there were 44,870 severe elevator-related injuries in adults, aged 65 and over, between 1990 and 2006.

More than half (51%) of all injuries among seniors were caused by slips, trips and falls. Soft-tissue injuries, such as bruises and sprains were 48% of all reported injuries. Next was the fracture, followed closely by cuts including amputation.

Fractured hips were the result for more than 40% of elevator-related hospitalizations.

Researchers discovered that elevator-related injuries and accidents increase with age. Three-quarters of all injuries were sustained by older women. The rate of injury was seven times higher for those aged 85 or older than those 65-69.

Researchers suggest that simple changes such as brightening the hallway floor and the elevator compartment could reduce the number of elevator-related accidents. They urge anyone heading towards an elevator to slow down and wait for the next car, in order to avoid injury.

Updated: 01/25/2022