Low patient perception of risk ups chances for hospital falls

A fall-prevention plan may be only as good as a hospitalized patient's belief that it's necessary, suggests a study published in the American Journal of Critical Care.

"Strategies to prevent falls have limited success without patients' participation," said principal investigator Renee Samples Twibell, R.N., Ph.D., associate professor in the School of Nursing at Ball State University and a nurse researcher at Indiana University Health Ball Memorial Hospital, in an announcement. "Our findings suggest that fear of falling is a key perception for nurses to assess as they develop fall-prevention plans."

The study examined 158 patients in acute care units at Ball Memorial Hospital. Nurses assessed all of the patients as being at risk for falls but more than half of the patients believed that they were not at all likely or were slightly likely to fall during hospitalization.

In addition:

  • Although three-quarters of patients said they would call for assistance before getting out of bed to walk in or outside the hospital room, 10 percent said they would not call for help for any mobility-related activities.
  • Most patients perceived low consequences of falling, with 69 percent reporting that they would be able to cope alone in the event of a fall, 60 percent predicting they would remain independent and 65 percent saying they would stay active.
  • Nearly half of the respondents perceived the most risk with walking outside their hospital room.

Nurses can incorporate patients' perception of fall risk into prevention plans and tailor communication about such plans accordingly, the researchers said. They warned, however, that even patients who intend to comply with fall-prevention plans may perform high-risk activities alone anyway if assistance isn't quickly available.

To learn more:
- read the announcement
- see the study