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Assessment of vulnerable patients cuts hospital falls

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Thorough assessment of vulnerable patients and a range of measures to reduce risks helped cut falls on hospital wards by a quarter, concludes a report on a new falls prevention scheme.

The FallSafe project, which was tested in hospitals and mental health units in the South Central NHS region, saw nurses trained and supported to look at a wide range of factors that can lead to falls.New “multifactorial assessments” covered patients’ mobility, cognitive impairment and medication while basic safety steps included ensuring patients had safe foot wear and access to mobility aids whenever they were needed.

The scheme saw the appointment of dedicated nurses, or FallSafe leads, to raise awareness and champion falls prevention on their wards. They worked with nursing colleagues and others professions including healthcare support workers, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, pharmacists and doctors.

FallSafe leads handed out educational materials to doctors and requested medication reviews, leading to a 41 per cent reduction in the number of patients given night sedation.

Consultant geriatrician and clinical co-lead for FallSafe Adam Darowski said: “Avoiding medication that can increase the risk of falling is a vital part of falls prevention.

“FallSafe proved how much nursing staff can influence doctors’ prescribing practice.”

A final report on the scheme found the number of falls had increased by 12 per cent because more were being reported, but overall researchers concluded the scheme had led to a 25 per cent reduction.

It also found the project had led to changes in policy and attitudes to falls, successfully boosted awareness of falls prevention and led to better multi-professional team work.

The two-year scheme was delivered by the Royal College of Physicians and funded by the Health Foundation’s Closing the Gap programme.


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Readers' comments (1)

  • Florence

    While we will never completley eliminate falls in hospitals, or in the community for that matter, this project shows how risk can be reduced.
    I was employed in a falls prevention clinic for 3 years. As a Nurse with many years Eldery care experience I thought I was very knowledgable about falls prevention when I first joined that clinic. However I learned so much within that role. The importance of multifactorial assessment is paramount. And it has been my experience
    that Nurses are ideally placed to influence patient outcomes through raising awareness and risk assessment in so many ways.
    When our Trust set up a Falls Task Force group the culture surrounding falls completley altered for the better.
    The use of intentional rounding has also increased awareness and given us structure to put the correct interventions into place.

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