CDC: Spend more time during office visits to prevent falls

Providers should take extra time during office visits to review patients' medications for any that may put them at risk for falls and ask patients if they have fallen in the past year or are concerned about falling, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which announced a new initiative aimed at helping hosptials prevent patient falls.

Patient falls affect up to one million patients a year and lead to injury as often as half the time.

During the White House Conference on Aging Monday, the CDC announced the STEADI (Stopping Elderly Accidents, Deaths & Injuries) initiative, which offers educational tools and materials that, if adopted by 5,000 providers, could be used to screen up to 6.3 million more at-risk patients and prevent 1.3 million falls.

STEADI includes materials for providers and patients, instructional videos and a recorded webinar. These materials, which include evidence-based interventions and guidelines, cover identification of high-risk patients, modifiable risk factors and case studies on effective strategies.

Researchers have found several different effective approaches to fall prevention. A comprehensive prevention program developed by the Department of Health and Human Services that assessed patients' health, physical function, history and home environment reduced falls by 13 percent and long-term care insurance claims 33 percent, according to a recent study in Health Affairs. A 2014 study published in The Lancet similarly found several simple environmental modifications improved patient fall rates, including handrails, grab bars near showers and toilets, nonslip mats, improved lighting, and floor repair. 

None of these strategies, however, are effective without support from hospital leadership, Erin DuPree, M.D., chief medical officer and vice president of the Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare, told Hospitals & Health Networks. Leaders, she said, are responsible for both identifying a hospital's fall problem in the first place and ensuring frontline staff have the resources to solve the problem

To learn more:
- here's the STEADI site
- check out the Health Affairs study
- read the H&HN article

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