In addition to a higher propensity for having chronic conditions, older adults are also frequently at a high risk for falling. Though falls can be prevented to an extent with lifestyle adjustments, clinical-community partnerships, and evidence-based programs, they are still one of the leading causes of fatal injury and are associated with high morbidity. As such, many hospitals and health systems are initiating innovative methods to avoid the costs and adverse outcomes associated with falls.
Virtual Sitters: Mission Hospital partnered with Cerner Corporation to integrate “virtual sitters”—depth sensors that visualize movement—as an alternative to using qualified staff sitters to evaluate fall rates and injury rates. As a result, unassisted falls decreased from 4.77 to 3.45 per 1,000 patient days.
Bed Exit Alarms Integrated With Mobile Phones: A Florida-based acute care hospital lacked suitable infrastructure to hear alerts from patients’ rooms, so it collaborated with Vocera® Engage to embed bedside alarms in its nurses’ mobile phones. The hospital’s fall rate was then cut by 40% and annual costs were reduced.
Bedside Icons and Video Education: A safety net hospital in California introduced bedside icons with individual patient risk factors, bedside exit alarms, and patient education on fall prevention via video. As a result, the hospital reduced its fall rate from 4.78 to 3.8 per 1,000 patient days, falls with any injury from 1.01 to 0.61 per 1,000 patient days, and falls with serious injury from 0.159 to 0.023 per 1,000 patient days.
Individualized Fall Prevention Education: An English hospital brought on a qualified educator to provide individualized fall prevention education to patients with good cognition and simultaneously monitored staff response to the resulting culture about falls. The hospital found that patients being individually educated led to staff being more engaged with fall prevention initiatives.
HBI’s Cost & Quality Academy has also investigated cutting edge interventions for fall prevention, such as in this case study about reducing falls in cognitively impaired patients. On HBI’s member portal, you can also find an implementation portfolio about fall prevention. However, if these interventions are out of reach, educating patients, performing effective medication reconciliation, promoting staff education, ensuring effective patient-provider communication, and taking appropriate precautions for high-risk individuals always aids in reducing falls.
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