Falls are a leading cause of hospital acquired injury and may prolong or complicate a hospital stay. While the risk of falling is well documented for the elderly, impaired mobility is a major falls risk that affects all ages. For hospitalised patients, this is particularly significant and some falls can result in an injury such as a cut, bruise or fracture.
Falls can occur in all age groups of hospitalised patients, however, the risk of falling and the risk of harm from a fall varies between individuals. This is due to a number of factors including:
- Sensory impairment (e.g. visual impairment)
- Impaired balance
- Poor muscle strength
- Surgery – due to the anaesthetic, other medications; and IV therapy, drains or catheters, which can impede mobility
- A history of falling
- Unfamiliar surroundings
St Andrew's War Memorial Hospital has a falls prevention program that focuses on identifying patients who are ‘at risk’ of falling according to a set of defined criteria. On admission, staff will assess your risk of falling, discuss the results with you and/or your family and put into place a prevention plan of care suited to your needs.
We routinely monitor the occurrence of falls in our hospitalised patients and use this information to review our practice and to measure the effectiveness of our falls prevention strategies.
What we are doing to reduce patient falls
As part of St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital’s falls prevention program our staff receive falls prevention education and use a range of strategies to reduce the risk of a patient falling. These include giving patients and their families’ information about falls and falls prevention strategies, conducting regular patient checks, ensuring call bells and personal effects are within a patient’s reach, and visual alerts to inform staff of a patient’s level of risk. When patients are identified as ‘high risk’, where appropriate, an electronic sensor pad or mat which detects a patient moving from their bed or chair is used to alert staff.
How you can help
As a patient there are a number of things you can do to keep yourself safe and reduce the risk of falling while you are in hospital. These include:
Using your call bell and waiting for the nurse to assist you to move if you are unsteady on your feet. Remember – Call don’t fall
- Wearing your glasses or hearing aids (if you normally use them)
- Bringing enclosed footwear with non slip soles when you come to hospital; and
wearing shoes and slippers rather than socks when walking
As a visitor to our hospital you can contribute to patient safety and falls prevention by advising a staff member if you observe a patient who is unattended and appears to be unsteady on their feet.