INQRI Grantee Uses Health Information Technology to Reduce Falls Among Older Hospital Patients

    • November 5, 2010

Falls are a serious problem for older adults and they often occur in hospitals. A multidisciplinary team of health researchers funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Interdisciplinary Nurse Quality Research Initiative (INQRI) has developed and tested a fall prevention tool kit (FPTK) designed to reduce in-hospital falls. The tool kit, which uses health information technology, succeeded in reducing the number of in-hospital falls among older patients.

The FPTK was developed by INQRI grantee (2007-2009) Patricia Dykes, R.N., D.N.Sc., a nurse and instructor in medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and an interdisciplinary team that included researchers in nursing, medicine, biostatistics and informatics. It includes a fall risk assessment, a patient-specific prevention plan, a handout for patients and their families, and a poster to hang over a patient’s bed.

The tool kit was tested at four hospitals in the Partners HealthCare System in Boston. More than 10,000 patients were studied and the FPTK was a success. The study found that it could prevent one fall every four days, or 90 falls each year, on the study units alone.

The FPTK was most effective with patients age 65 or older. “In-hospital falls are a major risk factor for fractures and other injuries,” Dykes said. “Reducing falls is crucial to injury prevention and we hope that this tool kit will play an important role in helping reduce falls and injuries among older patients.”

Dykes released the results of the study at a news conference organized by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on November 3. The study is published in the November 3, 2010 issue of JAMA. Its co-authors are Diane L. Carroll, R.N., Ph.D., B.C.; Ann Hurley, R.N., D.N.Sc.; Stuart Lipsitz, Sc.D.; Angela Benoit, B.Comm.; Frank Chang, MSE; Seth Meltzer; Ruslana Tsurikova, M.Sc., M.A.; Lyubov Zuyov, M.A.; and Blackford Middleton, M.D., M.P.H., M.Sc.

INQRI supports interdisciplinary teams of nurse scholars and scholars from other disciplines to address the gaps in knowledge about the relationship between nursing and health care quality. It is helping to advance the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine’s landmark report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, which include fostering interprofessional collaboration and preparing and enabling nurses to lead change. By requiring research teams to include a nurse scholar and at least one scholar from another health care discipline, INQRI not only fosters interprofessional collaboration, the Initiative also ensures that diverse perspectives are brought to bear in research.