The epidemiology and trends in wrist fracture admissions to public and private acute hospitals in New South Wales (NSW), Australia, between July 1993 and June 2003 were examined using routinely collected hospital separations statistics. During the study period, the number of hospital separations for wrist fractures increased by 71% in men, an average yearly increase of 6.5%, and by 43% in women, an average yearly increase of 3.9%. A modest, but significant, increase in age-specific and age-standardised hospitalisation rates for wrist fractures was also observed. Whilst the majority of wrist fractures were due to falls, the proportion of falls-related wrist fractures decreased significantly over time. This decrease was more pronounced in males and was accompanied by a rise in the proportion of wrist fractures resulting from high energy mechanisms such as transport, violence and machinery-related incidents. The difference in hospitalised wrist fracture rates between men and women could not be explained solely on the basis of the role played by osteoporosis, indicating the need for more research to improve our understanding of the underlying factors of this type of fracture in older people.
The aim of this paper is to estimate the proportion of older people who are hospitalised following a presentation to an emergency department for hip, pelvic and wrist fractures. The findings indicate that hospitalisation data do not accurately reflect the incidence of low-trauma fractures, particularly wrist and pelvic fractures, in older people.