Preventing falls one product at a time
Falls are the No. 1 cause of injury-related death in people age 65 and older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And they’re becoming increasingly problematic:
The nationwide increase in falls—which happen both inside and outside of hospital walls and in every age group—has resulted in more visits to both emergency departments and trauma centers.
Healthcare facilities are responding to this rise in falls by ensuring their fall prevention programs are in line with industry standards.
“Most facilities have some type of fall prevention program in place, and they really drive training and compliance for all of their clinicians in that area,” says Tara Coleman, MBA, BSN, RN, former Director of Nursing Services, Clinical Operations at HealthTrust.
Coleman says all healthcare facilities are held to a high standard for decreasing falls within the hospital. “No one wants their loved one to go into a facility and come out with an injury they didn’t have when they went in,” she adds. Clinicians are looking at different ways they can keep their patients safe, and there are a number of solutions on the market.
Contracted products for fall prevention
HealthTrust-contracted products in the fall prevention space include everything from pagers to protective garments. Of particular importance are the following products, ranging from basic to high-tech:
Bottom grip slippers are an integral part of a fall prevention strategy, and HealthTrust recently renewed its slipper category. The HealthTrust Nursing Advisory Board completed a full review of different slipper suppliers, looking at how they fit, their clinical efficacy, the ability to accommodate every patient population, the grips, the quality of the cloth and the color, among other variables.
Slipper color is especially important, Coleman says, because it can be used as an indicator. Yellow socks indicate that a patient is a fall risk, and they alert everyone on staff to take the appropriate precautions to prevent a fall from occurring.
Some hospitals use colored wristbands (such as yellow) to alert staff that the patient in question is a fall risk. “If those patients are seen in the halls or common areas, staff know that attendants should be assisting them,” Coleman notes.
Bed alarms are another important part of any fall prevention strategy. They are set off if a patient starts moving in bed, immediately alerting hospital staff.
Lindy Barry-Brown, BSN, RN, Nursing Portfolio Director for HealthTrust, says some bed and chair alarms can be portable. They’re not integrated into the beds, but rather they’re a stand-alone alarm system, Barry-Brown says, which adds another layer of precaution. These portable alarms can be placed on the bed, on a toilet in the bathroom, on a wheelchair or on a stand- alone chair beside the bed.
Virtual sitters are a relatively new form of technology that allow healthcare professionals to remotely monitor patients who are a fall risk. The technology uses infrared sensors to detect a patient’s movement.
Through the use of these products and fall prevention programs, facilities can be poised to stand firm on slowing this trend.
The Joint Commission launches educational fall prevention campaign
In July 2019, The Joint Commission launched the “Speak Up to Prevent Falls Campaign,” with resources to help prevent falls, including tips for how patients can take extra precautions, make small changes in their homes and ask for help when needed.
The Joint Commission offers campaign materials for use in healthcare facilities and recommends posting them in waiting rooms, patient rooms and bathrooms, cafeterias and in patient admission packets.
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