Preventing Hospital Based Falls
Falls in hospitals are a danger, posing potentially serious consequences to recovering patients. Most falls can be prevented.
Studies show that approximately 10% of fatal falls for elderly adults occur in healthcare facilities. Of all hospital patient falls, half will result in moderate to severe injuries, which delay healing time, extend hospital stay and often require further treatment. The additional injuries occurring from a fall can put the patient at an increased risk for infection and additional complications. Our goal at Littleton Adventist Hospital is to reduce the risk of falling by following the latest National Patient Safety Goals (NPSG) and Requirements as stated by The Joint Commission.
First 24 Hours
Patients are at an increased risk for falling in the first 24 hours after a procedure. During this time, medications are still present in the body that can drastically affect balance and perception. The body is also weakened; and, depending on the type of treatment or surgery, entire body parts may still be numb and temporarily out of commission. Even reaching for a glass of water or sitting on the edge of the bed can be dangerous, so it is extremely important to ask for help.
Most falls happen when a patient attempts to move from one location to another such as getting out of bed or moving from a wheelchair to a chair. It is easy to over estimate the body's limits while recovering because we are not used to the effects that medications and injuries have on our bodies. Always ask for assistance when moving from one place to another even if you feel that you have the strength to do yourself.
One way that our staff works to prevent falls is with our hourly rounding. We try to anticipate patient needs before they arise. Sometimes the little things, such as refilling water or moving a box of tissues, are all that is needed to prevent a patient from reaching too far or getting up unnecessarily. When in a patient's room, our staff will assess the area and evaluate potential hazards. By foreseeing possible threats and moving obstacles out of the way, we can safeguard the room against falls.
An important element in preventing falls is education. Our team is trained using the current National Patient Safety Goals for reducing falls and preventing harm from falls. We also take steps to educate our patients and their family members, as they are a vital part of our team in creating a safe environment at Littleton Adventist Hospital. Understanding the effects that your medication can have on your balance is one example of how our staff will communicate the possible risks of falling. If you have questions about ways to increase your own safety or the safety of others, please talk with a staff member. We are happy to offer suggestions and will be glad to answer any questions you may have.