Surveillance cameras help prevent patient falls

In a state where patient falls are one of the leading causes of death and injuries in healthcare facilities, some Connecticut hospitals are monitoring patients extra closely to prevent falls and keep patients safe, reported.

For example, since Greenwich Hospital installed a $52,650 video surveillance camera system more than a year ago, it has had only one patient fall in the monitored rooms. The trend is growing in the area, the article said, with Stamford Hospital instituting a similar program two years ago, resulting in a 20 percent reduction in fall rates and Bridgeport Hospital plans to install cameras in the near future.

The Greenwich Hospital cameras monitor 14 rooms assigned to patients at high risk for falling. A trained employee looks for signs of distress or movement on the other end of the camera, communicating with patients over an intercom system if they start to move without the assistance of hospital staff, instructing them to stay put until help arrives.

"Preventing falls, particularly falls with injuries, is a hot topic on the national scene," Mary Cooper, chief quality officer for the Connecticut Hospital Association told CTpost. The state experienced 689 serious injuries or deaths from falls at healthcare facilities between 2005 and 2011, according to statistics from the Connecticut Department of Public Health, the article states.

To ensure patient privacy, the article said the hospital has patients and family sign consent forms and posts signs in patients' rooms letting them know the hospital will monitor them via the video cameras. If patients and families object to the surveillance, the hospital doesn't monitor them, CTpost reports.

The preventive, proactive approach differs from the way hospitals have dealt with falls in the past. Many hospitals rely on bed alarm systems as part of their comprehensive patient fall prevention program, FierceHealthcare previously reported. Accidental falls contribute to patient complications in 2 percent of hospital stays, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

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- here's the article