Patient fall prevention: New tool could help hospitals save $1M in costs

By Fran Matso Lysiak 

A new resource could help hospitals significantly reduce the number of patients injured from falls and save approximately $1 million.

The Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare has released a new online tool that offers step-by-step guidance to assist hospitals in measuring fall and fall with injury rates, identifying and measuring barriers to fall prevention, and implementing proven solutions for falls prevention that are customized to address specific barriers.

By following the steps, a typical 200-bed hospital could potentially reduce the number of patients injured from a fall from 117 to 45 a year and avoid about $1 million annually in costs, the accrediting agency said in a statement.

To develop the tool, the center originally worked with seven hospitals to test the fall prevention methodology and then expanded the pilot program to five more healthcare organizations. The original hospitals were able to reduce the rate of falls by 35 percent and falls with injuries by 62 percent. 

Kaiser Permanente San Diego Medical Center, one of the original participating hospitals, sought to eliminate all falls during its own project, and looked to label each patient as a potential risk on arrival, according to a Hospitals & Health Networks article. Kaiser achieved that goal and completely changed its culture using the toolkit, Leah Apatan, R.N., nurse manager of a surgical and oncology unit at the hospital and clinical lead for its falls project, told the publication.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reports that nearly 700,000 to one million patients fall in hospitals each year, leading to complications in 2 percent of hospital stays. Furthermore, CMS will penalize hospitals for not preventing hospital-acquired conditions and "falls and trauma" are one of the HACs on the list. Therefore, facilities around the country continue to look for ways to prevent this prevalent problem.

Many of these falls "result in moderate to severe injuries that can prolong hospital stays and require the patient to undergo additional treatment," said Erin DuPree, M.D., vice president and chief medical officer of the Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare, in the statement. Serious injuries, on average, add 6.3 days to a patient's hospital stay and cost about $14,056.

To learn more:
- read the announcement
- here's more on the tool
- check out the HH&N article

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