Using administrative data to track fall-related ambulatory care services in the Veterans Administration Healthcare system

Stephen L. Luther*, Dustin D. French, Gail Powell-Cope, Laurence Z. Rubenstein, Robert Campbell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background and aims: The Veterans Administration (VA) Healthcare system, containing hospital and community-based outpatient clinics, provides the setting for the study. Summary data was obtained from the VA Ambulatory Events Database for fiscal years (FY) 1997-2001 and in-depth data for FY 2001. In FY 2001, the database included approximately 4 million unique patients with 60 million encounters. The purpose of this study was: 1) to quantify injuries and use of services associated with falls among the elderly treated in Veterans Administration (VA) ambulatory care settings using administrative data; 2) to compare fall-related services provided to elderly veterans with those provided to younger veterans. Methods: Retrospective analysis of administrative data. This study describes the trends (FY 1997-2001) and patterns of fall-related ambulatory care encounters (FY 2001) in the VA Healthcare System. Results: An approximately four-fold increase in both encounters and patients seen was observed in FY 1997-2001, largely paralleling the growth of VA ambulatory care services. More than two-thirds of the patients treated were found to be over the age of 65. Veterans over the age of 65 were found to be more likely to receive care in the non-urgent setting and had higher numbers of co-morbid conditions than younger veterans. While nearly half of the encounters occurred in the Emergency/Urgent Care setting, fall-related injuries led to services across a wide spectrum of medical and surgical providers/departments. Conclusions: This study represents the first attempt to use the VA Ambulatory Events Database to study fall-related services provided to elderly veterans. In view of the aging population served by the VA and the movement to provide increased services in the outpatient setting, this database provides an important resource for researchers and administrators interested in the prevention and treatment of fall-related injuries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)412-418
Number of pages7
JournalAging Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2005


  • Administrative data
  • Ambulatory care
  • Elderly
  • Falls
  • Veterans Health Administration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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