Wisconsin has the nation’s highest rate of deadly falls among the elderly, according to a report last year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some 1,365 residents 65 or older died from falls in 2016, giving the state a rate more than double the national average.
Deaths from falls in Wisconsin outnumber deaths from breast and prostate cancer combined. Falls resulted in about 129,000 emergency room visits and nearly 16,000 hospitalizations in 2017, according to the state Department of Health Services. Medical charges for falls, paid mostly by the taxpayer-supported Medicare and Medicaid programs, exceeded $1 billion.
Exactly why Wisconsin tops the charts in fatal falls is not clear, but experts cite a few possible reasons: icy winters; excessive drinking, including among the elderly; the population is older and whiter than the U.S. average; and officials here might report falls as a cause of death better than in other states.