Recognizing National Fall Prevention Awareness Week

September 24, 2020

Sept. 21-25 is National Fall Prevention Awareness Week. Did you know that one-in-four older Americans fall every year? Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries for people 65 and older. However, the good news about falls is that most of them can be prevented! During September, which is Fall Prevention Awareness Month, WSHA has recognized members’ excellent work in fall prevention.

Every 29 minutes an older-adult dies from a fall and every 14 seconds an older adult is treated in an emergency department for a fall-related injury. Falls can result in hip fractures, broken bones and head injuries. And even falls without a major injury can cause an older adult to become fearful or depressed, making it difficult for them to stay active. If you have an aging parent, grandparent or neighbor in your life, helping them reduce their risk of falling is a great way to help them stay healthy and independent as long as possible.

Falls continue to be consistently listed as one of the Top 10 Sentinel events reported to the Joint Commission Sentinel Event database and account for nearly 84 percent of all inpatient incidents. Despite this statistic we know that falls should not be a normal part of aging. As such, Governor Jay Inslee has made a proclamation that Sept. 21-25, 2020 be recognized as Fall Prevention Awareness Day.

This week, WSHA is recognizing the fall prevention work of Valley Medical Center. The team at Valley shared a description of their clinical improvement journey:

Valley Medical Center Fall Update
In March, Valley implemented the Hester Davis fall scale on all of the inpatient med/surg units. After this implementation we have already seen a decrease in fall rates and an increased attention to individualized interventions for various fall risk factors. We have also recently rolled out a hip protector algorithm to all units and plan to track the data and usage over the next few months.

Another exciting improvement is that one of the units with the highest fall rates (due to their vulnerable patient population) was moved to another space that provides the patients a more appropriate milieu. The unit also tested several fall prevention strategies such as merry walkers and hip protectors. This unit has now seen a dramatic decrease in their fall and fall-with-injury rates.

The next pilot our Fall PI committee is working on is to implement orthostatic vital signs for all admissions. This pilot will involve interdisciplinary collaboration between nursing, hospitalists, rehab and pharmacy staff to medically address patients who are orthostatic from the start of their hospital care.

I am available at for falls questions – please don’t hesitate to reach out.


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