Bush signs falls prevention bill

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President Bush late last week signed the Safety of Seniors Act, a bill that aims to raise awareness about falls among the elderly and expands research into identifying at-risk populations.

Nationally, 42% of all nursing home admissions take place as a direct result of one or more geriatric falls, according to Frank Pallone (D-NJ), who sponsored the House version of the legislation.

The Department of Health and Human Services will award grant money to state and local education campaigns that aim to raise awareness and ultimately prevent falls, under the bill. Also, the law requires HHS to disclose the effects of falls on healthcare costs.

More than $19 billion annually is spent on treating the elderly for the adverse effects of falls, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: $12 billion for hospitalization, $4 billion for emergency department visits, and $3 billion for outpatient care.