6 steps to prevent injuries from falls

A new Joint Commission alert details six actions healthcare facilities should take to prevent falls resulting in injury. The commission notes that falls can affect patients of any age and that post-fall management should include an aggregate analysis of contributing factors and continued reassessment of the patient.

The actions are:

  1. Lead an effort to raise awareness of the need to prevent falls resulting in injury.
  2. Establish an interdisciplinary falls injury prevention team, or evaluate the makeup of the team already in place.
  3. Use a standardized, validated tool to identify risk factors for falls.
  4. Develop an individual plan of care based on fall and injury risks, and tailor interventions to the patient, population or setting.
  5. Standardize and apply best practices and proven interventions, including standardized hand-off communications and bedside patient education.
  6. Conduct post-fall management, including a post-fall huddle, honest and transparent reporting, a falls analysis to drive improvement efforts, and a patient reassessment.

In August, the accrediting agency released an online tool to help hospitals measure the rates of patient falls and falls with injury. The tool also identifies and measures barriers to prevention and for implementing proven, customized solutions.

A recent study published in the American Journal of Critical Care highlights the importance of patient education and buy-in to the success of any fall-prevention plan. More than half of the patients identified by nurses as at high risk for falls didn't perceive themselves to be at risk, the study found. Nurses must take those perceptions into consideration and tailor communications accordingly, researchers said.

Meanwhile, another study by Royal Phillips showed that seniors with chronic conditions fell and required emergency transportation to the hospital 54 percent more often than those without chronic conditions. While some of the conditions were tied to the frailty of a patient, conditions such as diabetes and COPD also increased the risk of falls, according to an announcement. COPD increased the risk by 42 percent, and diabetes by 30 percent.

For more information:
- here's the alert (.pdf)
- see the Joint Commission's details on the actions
- check out the Philips falls study
- read the Philips announcement

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