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Researchers, led by the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford, have developed a new tool for doctors to identify patients at high risk of serious falls. The tool could have a big impact on the way older patients are managed in primary care, improving targeting of drug treatment and fall prevention strategies for high-risk individuals.

Doctor talking to an elderly male and female couple in a GP surgery

The research, published in The BMJ and funded by the Wellcome Trust, Royal Society and National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), used 20 years’ worth of data from 1.7 million anonymised healthcare records to develop the tool, and then checked its accuracy against a separate database of almost 4 million healthcare records.

In England, each year, around 235,000 hospital admissions for people over 65 are due to falls, costing the NHS an estimated £2.3 billion.

Dr Constantinos Koshiaris, Senior Medical Statistician in the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences at the University of Oxford, who developed the tool, said: 'In the past, we have struggled to identify people at risk of falling in the community. Previous falls-risk tools were not very accurate and in some cases had methodological flaws. Our new 'STRATIFY-Falls' tool can predict which patients are most at risk of falling in the next one to ten years. This could allow GPs to provide more personalised care and target falls prevention strategies for patients, such as exercise-based interventions or drug reviews.'

Read the full story on the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences

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