Joint Commission protocol reduced patient falls by 35%

Seven hospitals throughout the country, following the Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare's Preventing Falls with Injury project, reduced the number of patients injured in a fall by 62 percent and the number of patients falling by 35 percent, according to an announcement from the Joint Commission.

Between 30 and 35 percent of patients who fall sustain an injury, according to an informational graphic from the Joint Commission, and those injuries result in 6.3 additional days in the hospital. There are about 11,000 fatal falls in hospitals every year, and injuries cost hospitals more than $14,000 in additional expenses. Reducing patient falls could save a 200-bed hospital about $1 million a year, while a 400-bed hospital could save almost $2 million a year, according to the graphic.

Barnes-Jewish Hospital in Missouri, Baylor Health System in Texas, Fairview Health Services in Minnesota, Kaiser Permanente in California, Memorial Hermann Healthcare System in Texas, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina and Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in New Hampshire all participated, beginning the program in November 2011 for 18 months.

The hospitals worked with the Center to create awareness among staff, empower patients to take an active role in their own safety, utilize a validated fall risk assessment tool, engage patients and families in the fall safety program, provide hourly rounding and engage all hospital staff to ensure no patient walked alone.  

Some targeted solutions to prevent falls included:

  • Scheduling patient's trips to the bathroom

  • Reminding patients to ask for help when walking

  • Adopting a fall safety culture throughout the entire facility

"Patient falls are a serious problem that have received a great deal of attention, yet defy easy solutions," says Erin DuPree, M.D., vice president and chief medical officer, Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare. "These seven organizations are leading the way in developing strategies that keep patients safer. By using these approaches to determine the specific causes of falls and targeting interventions accordingly, real and substantial improvement can be achieved."

To learn more:
- here's the announcement
- check out the infographic 
- read about the project