What are Patient Falls?
Patient falls are among the most common occurrences reported in hospitals and are a leading cause of death in people ages 65 or older. Of those who fall, as many as half may suffer moderate to severe injuries that reduce mobility and independence, and increase the risk of premature death.
Why is it important to prevent patient falls?
About 50 percent of older adults hospitalized for hip fracture never regain their previous level of function. Ten percent of fatal falls for older adults occur in hospitals. Because the US population is aging, the problem of hip fractures will likely increase substantially over the next four decades. Efforts to prevent falls in the hospital setting involve identifying patients at risk of falling and implementing fall prevention strategies.
How do we measure our performance?
At Hartford Hospital we track both patient falls with and without injury and report these as falls per 1000 patient days. We also compare our performance against national benchmarks.
How are we doing at preventing patient falls?
The chart below depicts falls with and without injury at Hartford Hospital. Our goal is ultimately to eliminate injurious patient falls at Hartford Hospital. When we compare our performance to national benchmarks of teaching hospitals with > 500 beds, we have fewer total falls and falls with injury than the mean (between the 25th and 50th percentile) on most units.
What efforts are in place to improve performance?
At Hartford Hospital we have implemented a multidisciplinary Falls Action Group prevention team focused on identifying the root causes for patient falls and putting interventions into place. Multiple interventions have been put into place including, among other things, a revised fall assessment tool, pre- and post-fall huddles, monitoring of staff compliance with fall prevention protocol, enhanced availability of fall prevention devices and hourly rounding. We have recently created a Fall Prevention video that can be viewed by patients and families at the bedside to further explain our fall prevention program. Patients are our partners in fall prevention, learning to prevent falls and offering suggestions to improve our fall prevention efforts. We continue to refine these efforts on a daily basis, striving for a safe experience for each patient. We are in the process of a 2 year long study looking at combinations of specific medications as a cause of falls. The results of this research should help us to further prevent falls caused by unexpected low blood pressure and dizziness.