Learn how nurses can help prevent patient falls




As healthcare professionals, we intuitively know patient falls are a big issue for hospitals. We have seen people suffer from secondary injuries resulting from these incidents.

Over the last several years, hospital falls have become a hot topic. Since 2008, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have modified the reimbursement structure of payment, denying or limiting hospital reimbursement that results from adverse events which may occur to a patient while in the hospital.

Falls and the traumatic injuries caused by falls in the hospital setting are key components to the CMS program.

It is estimated that between 700,000 and 1 million falls occur in U.S. hospitals annually costing real dollars, according to a Center for Disease Control and Prevention report, “Important Facts about Falls.”

It also is estimated that more than $31 billion was spent on non-fatal fall injuries in 2015, reports the CDC. A hospital fall can add $14,000 and more than six days to a hospital stay, for example.

Several reasons have been identified for hospital falls, including inadequate patient assessment, poor communication and lack of adherence to protocols and general safety practices.

Research shows early mobility is essential to patient recovery in the hospital. Healthcare practitioners who work directly with patients may struggle with balancing patient safety and patient mobility in the acute care setting. Research also demonstrates that there are several negative effects of bed rest, including deconditioning and muscle atrophy.

It is essential that hospital staff understand the importance of maintaining patient mobility while patients are in the hospital and implement fall prevention strategies to keep patients safe when ambulating.

By providing a safe hospital environment for patients, completing thorough clinical assessments, improving both patient and staff education and promoting open communication among team members, the clinical staff can minimize the risk of patient falls and improve patient safety.

The webinar “Inpatient Fall Prevention: The Balance Between Mobility and Safety” provides details surrounding the falls issue and outlines best practices for the interprofessional team to help minimize their occurrence.


Courses related to ‘fall prevention’

CE151-60: Fall Prevention for Older Adults
(1 contact hr)

Falls are a serious health risk for older people. For many older adults, a fall is a life-changing event that can lead to disability, loss of independence or even death. One out of three community-dwelling adults 65 and older falls every year, and 20% to 30% of those who fall sustain moderate to severe injuries such as lacerations, fractures and head injuries. Healthcare professionals of various disciplines need to understand what causes seniors to fall and what the evidence shows can prevent the events.

WEB340: Inpatient Fall Prevention: The Balance Between Mobility and Safety
(1 contact hr)

Since 2008, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have modified the reimbursement structure of payment, denying or limiting hospital reimbursement that results from adverse events which may occur to a patient while in the hospital. Falls and the traumatic injuries caused by falls in the hospital setting are key components to this program. Research shows that early mobility is essential to patient recovery in the hospital. It is essential that hospital staff understand the importance of maintaining patient mobility while patients are in the hospital and implement fall prevention strategies to keep patients safe when ambulating. By providing a safe hospital environment for patients, completing thorough clinical assessments, improving both patient and staff education and promoting open communication among team members, the clinical staff can minimize the risk of patient falls and improve patient safety.

CE571: Traumatic Brain Injury
(1 contact hr)

Traumatic brain injury, also called acquired brain injury or head injury, occurs when a sudden trauma causes some level of injury to the brain. The leading cause of TBI in civilians is falls, accounting for 35% of TBIs, with another 17% related to motor vehicle crashes. With TBI, visible injuries may be present, but unseen injuries can pose the greatest threat. TBI affects about 1.7 million people a year in the U.S. This module provides healthcare providers with information about traumatic brain injuries, including epidemiology, types of injuries, signs and symptoms, and nursing assessment, interventions, and evaluation.


About the author
James R. Ross PT, DPT, CSCS

James R. Ross PT, DPT, CSCS 

James F. Ross, PT, DPT, CSCS, is clinical editorial director of continuing education for physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech language pathology at OnCourse Learning, which publishes Nurse.com.

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