5 ways to prevent patient falls

Nearly 700,000 to one million patients fall in hospitals each year, leading to complications in 2 percent of hospital stays,  according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. As a resuilt, facilities around the country continue to look for ways to prevent this prevalent problem. 

Here are five strategies from FierceHealthcare's eBook, Population Health Management: How to Manage High-Risk Patients, that hospitals can use to reduce patient falls:

  1. Create a personalized recorded message for the call alarm: Some elderly patients become confused in an unfamiliar setting. Put a patient's mind at ease by recording a statement that uses the patient's name, the language he or she speaks, the nurse's name and something personal about the patient. "You want to stun them in the first three seconds. You say their name, identify yourself, ask them to sit down and tell them you will be right in," said Tina Paulson, R.N., nurse manager at Baystate Mary Lane Hospital in Ware, Mass., which has lowered fall rates in both its critical care and medical-surgical units. 

  2. Create a no pass zone: This means available staff respond to all call bells, regardless of whether the patient is the responsiblity of a particular staff member. In addition to hourly rounding, Baystate also has all relevant personnel--including patient care technicians, registered nurses and case managers--routinely check in on patients. 
  3. Put a patient board in each patient's room: Baystate uses this board to identify whether the patient uses a cane, bed alarm or walker, so anyone who walks into the room can properly ambulate or move the patient.

  4. Preemptively identify patients' preferences and needs: Pay attention to patients' toileting patterns, when they want to go for a walk or do some other activity, so staff are available when patients are most active, Paulson suggests. Consider putting patients with dementia or Alzheimer's disease near nurses stations so they are monitored more closely.

  5. Implement bedside handovers: At the beginning of every shift, nurses should go into patients' rooms and introduce the oncoming shift nurses. Nurses and staff should also share safety data, including fall risk assessments.

It's also important to educate patients about fall prevention upon discharge to ensure they have all necessary equipment at home for their safety, such as a cane or walker, before they leave the hospital, Paulson said.

To learn more:
- download the eBook (.pdf)