What They Are
The National Quality Forum (NQF) defines a fall as an unplanned descent to the floor (or extension of the floor e.g., trash can or other equipment) with or without injury to the patient.
Who's At Risk
Falls are the largest category of reported incidents in hospitals. Hospital fall and injury rates vary due to patient population, patient risk factors, the presence of fall prevention programs and interventions, and the definition of the fall rate metric utilized by the hospital. The strongest predictor of a fall is a previous fall.
What's At Stake
The cost of falls is expensive and contributes to increasing health care expenditures. The CDC estimated that the cost of fall injuries for those 65 years of age and older is expected to exceed $19 billion, with $0.2 billion of those fatal falls. Falls can have serious effects on a person's ability to function as a productive member of their family, community or society. Patient falls are the second most frequent cause of harm in hospitals and are the largest category of reported incidents in hospitals. In the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) unintentional fall related injury report, it was reported that total charges for acute care hospital events associated with unintentional falls were over $471 million in fiscal year 2006 (MDPH, 2008).
What Providers Are Doing to Prevent Patient Falls
Massachusetts hospitals have been leaders in addressing falls prevention. Our hospitals continue to encourage efforts to address this serious issue, particularly regarding falls-associated morbidity and mortality for older adults. Hospitals have collaborated on and established Falls Prevention Programs in accordance with the Joint Commission's National Patient Safety Goal #9: Reduce the risk of patient harm resulting from falls. Falls prevention programs include multidisciplinary predictive falls risk assessments for patients when they are first admitted to the hospital, as well as customizing falls prevention programs to meet individual patient needs. Hospitals report serious patient falls to the Department of Public Health, and public reporting of these serious falls began in 2009. Every Massachusetts hospital is also voluntarily collecting falls data through the National Quality Forum's Nursing Sensitive Indicators of Falls and Falls with Injury. This data has been publicly reported since the summer of 2007.
MHA, in partnership with the Massachusetts Organization of Nurse Executives (MONE) Practice Committee, has added extensively to falls prevention knowledge by researching and sharing best practices regarding this key quality indicator among hospitals throughout the state, and by posting on the PatientCareLink and MONE websites.
In addition, MHA is a member of the Massachusetts Falls Prevention Coalition and continually works to prevent falls with partners across all sectors and settings in the state.
2010 AGS/BGS Clinical Practice Guideline: Prevention of Falls in Older Persons
Source: The American Geriatrics Society
The Patient Who Falls: "It's Always a Trade-off"
Mary E. Tinetti, MD; Chandrika Kumar, MD
ABSTRACT>>Falls are common health events that cause discomfort and disability for older adults and stress for caregivers. Using the case of an older man who has experienced multiple falls and a hip fracture, this article, which focuses on community-living older adults, addresses the consequences and etiology of falls; summarizes the evidence on predisposing factors and effective interventions; and discusses how to translate this evidence into patient care. Previous falls; strength, gait, and balance impairments; and medications are the strongest risk factors for falling. Effective single interventions include exercise and physical therapy, cataract surgery, and medication reduction. Evidence suggests that the most effective strategy for reducing the rate of falling in community-living older adults may be intervening on multiple risk factors. Vitamin D has the strongest clinical trial evidence of benefit for preventing fractures among older men at risk. Issues involved in incorporating these evidence-based fall prevention interventions into outpatient practice are discussed, as are the trade-offs inherent in managing older patients at risk of falling. While challenges and barriers exist, fall prevention strategies can be incorporated into clinical practice. Subscribed JAMA Users Read Complete Article (JAMA. 2010;303(3):258-266)»
Simple language and icons on bed poster, patient materials, HIT support reduce patient falls in acute care
Premier SafetyShare Newsletter, January 2011
Falls among patients over 65 were significantly reduced in four hospitals using a patient-specific fall interventions toolkit with simple text and icons on bed signs, patient handouts and staff care plans, and health information technology (HIT) support, a new study has found. The icons, signs, handouts and staff care plans were developed for all levels of literacy.
Lawrence General Hospital: Runner Up: Med/surg unit boosts safety and satisfaction with initiative care
Advance For Nurses, May 2011
There is always a lot of talk about the power of teamwork and successful teams yet there is little talk of what actually defines a great team. I believe this year's honors for the best nursing team should be bestowed upon the nurses of Russell 4.