Falls and fall-related injuries harm patients in hospitals, increasing lengths of stays and hospital costs. A single fall—and subsequent fear of falling—can start a downward spiral of reduced mobility for a person.
To create a fall-risk assessment and personalized intervention to reduce falls, researchers first identified barriers and facilitators to interventions. They then developed a prototype toolkit based on six risk factors: a recent fall, medical diagnosis, needing help walking, receiving intravenous therapy, gait characteristics and impaired mental status. An illustrator created icons to standardize and simplify communications of bedside alerts that then became the basis for a bed poster, patient education handouts and a plan of care.
The research team tested the fall prevention toolkit (FPTK) in four Boston-area hospitals and compared fall rates in units that received the intervention (5,160 patients) with units that received usual care (5,104 patients).
More work is needed to identify interventions that can reduce injuries and trauma from falls.