Falls and associated injuries: An on-going patient safety issue

June 14, 2017

Falls and associated injuries remain a serious patient safety problem, with between 700,000 and 1 million people falling in the hospital each year, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Up to 51 percent of falls result in injury or significant trauma, and they are the leading cause of injury-related deaths for adults older than 65. Several evidence-based interventions have been designed to prevent falls and associated injuries, and WSHA has resources that can help.

The challenge of fall prevention has become increasingly complex as our patient population continues to age. To prevents falls and associated injuries, it is crucial that the multidisicplinary team carefully assess each patient for the risk of falls, while evaluating any prior history of falling, other co-morbidities, mental status and medications. If the patient is older than 85, has a diagnosis of osteoporosis, is on anti-coagulant medications or just had surgery, the likelihood of injury increases due to possible fractures, bleeding and adverse effects from anesthesia.

The evidence-based interventions that have been designed to prevent falls and associated injuries include assistive devices, hip protectors, medication review, frequent rounding with an emphasis on proactive toileting, environmental redesign and patient and family engagement with education that incorporates the “teach back method.” Please consider these strategies as your organization strives to keep our patients safe.

For resources to aid you in your performance improvement efforts, please review WSHA’s resources at https://www.wsha.org/quality-safety/projects/general-care/falls/ or contact Lucia at luciaa@wsha.org. (Lucia Austin-Gil)


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