Patient falls are a significant concern in the healthcare industry, posing risks to patient safety and causing physical injuries, extended hospital stays, and increased healthcare expenses. Factors like alarm fatigue and shorter hospital stays contribute to the problem. The recognition of complexities surrounding patient falls and the implementation of suitable strategies help in the mitigation of the occurrence (Wong et al., 2022).
Background and Information
Addressing patient falls and implementing preventive measures are crucial for improving care quality and complexities. Healthcare organizations can create a safer environment, reduce the burden on the system, and promote optimal patient outcomes by prioritizing interventions to prevent falls. Prioritizing these efforts is essential for safeguarding patient well-being and enhancing healthcare delivery quality.
Patient falls are a growing concern in healthcare facilities due to their impact on patient outcomes and their financial burden on the healthcare system. Falls are the leading cause of injury among hospitalized patients, affecting approximately one million people in the United States annually, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, n.d). Falls can cause minor bruises to more serious injuries such as fractures or head trauma, resulting in longer hospital stays, higher healthcare costs, and lower patient satisfaction.
Previous Attempt to Address Patient’s Falls
Alarm fatigue is a significant factor in patient falls in healthcare facilities. Frequent alarm activation can cause desensitization and decreased response rates among healthcare providers, leading to delayed or overlooked alarm signals. This compromises patient safety by allowing alarms related to bed exits or movement to go unnoticed. Shorter hospital stays can be cost-saving but pose challenges to patient safety (Wong et al., 2022). Patients may be discharged before fully recovering or at risk of falling, increasing the likelihood of falls outside the hospital setting. This raises the question of who bears the responsibility and cost if a patient falls after being discharged from the hospital.
Fall prevention programs have been developed to address the critical issue of patient falls and improve patient safety. These programs include comprehensive risk assessments, environmental modifications, patient and family education, and staff training. The systematic identification and assessment of patients’ fall risks are crucial, as it helps healthcare providers tailor interventions and strategies to address specific patient needs (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, n.d). Environmental modifications, such as well-maintained surroundings, adequate lighting, and assistive devices, prevent falls. Patient and family education is integral to fall prevention programs, empowering patients and their families to participate in their care actively.
Education may include teaching patients how to use assistive devices correctly, promoting regular exercise and physical activity, and raising awareness about calling for assistance when needed. Staff training and education are essential in ensuring fall prevention programs’ successful implementation. Healthcare professionals must be educated about fall risk factors, prevention strategies, and proper protocols for assessing and responding to at-risk patients (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, n.d). Ongoing training programs and updates are necessary to inform healthcare providers about evidence-based practices and ensure a consistent approach to fall prevention across the organization.
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. (n.d). Falls. Retrieved from https://www.ahrq.gov/topics/falls.html#accordions
Wong, Y. G., Hang, J. A., Francis-Coad, J., & Hill, A. M. (2022). Using comprehensive geriatric assessment for older adults undertaking a facility-based transition care program to evaluate functional outcomes: a feasibility study. BMC geriatrics, 22(1), 598. doi: 10.1186/s12877-022-03255-5
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