Preventing Inpatient Falls

Every 36 seconds a patient falls in a U.S. hospital

Inpatient falls cost the U.S. healthcare system over $20 billion annually

Preventing inpatient falls is a high priority for Acute Care facilities. Most importantly preventing falls protects patients against injury, but it also protects the hospital’s bottom line. Injury falls can increase patient-care costs up to 61% and Medicare/Medicaid will not reimburse the hospitals for those costs. Risk factors for inpatient falls include use of psychotropic medication, environmental hazards, and impaired mobility. Impaired mobility refers to impaired gait, weakness, decreased lower extremity mobility, and decreased coordination and balance. One way Acute Care facilities can help reduce fall risks, is by utilizing medical equipment that is designed for patients with impaired mobility.

During hospital stays, patients are weighed to monitor fluid levels, assess nutritional status, or to calculate correct medication dosages. However, weighing a patient on an unstable or poorly designed scale can pose a fall risk. Acute Care facilities should utilize scales with safety features that can help prevent falls. For example, wheelchair scales allow patients to remain safely seated in their wheelchair while simultaneously being weighed. The scale is designed to be able to subtract the entered weight of the wheelchair and display only the patient’s weight. There are also high capacity stand-on scales that are designed with very low platform heights and “live” handrails. The low platform height requires only a minimal step-up onto the weighing surface and reduces the risk of the patient tripping when trying to step onto the scale. The live handrails allow the patient to hold onto the handrails for stability while the scale accurately calculates weight. These features provide the patient with a safer and more stable weighing experience and can help reduce the risk of falling during the weighing process.

Upgrading equipment to models that include safety features should be a high priority for Acute Care facilities. Safer equipment, paired with a comprehensive Fall Prevention Program, can greatly reduce the number of inpatient falls and protect patients against a hospital acquired injury.

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