Watch Your Step, Falls in Hospitals Hurt Thousands of Patients Annually
Did you know falls are one of the top patient safety threats in hospitals? Statistics gathered by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) show that thousands of hospital patients are injured in falls every year. One-third of hospital falls are preventable. In some cases, hospitals do not take the necessary steps to prevent patients from falling. Falls in hospitals can cause fractures, lacerations, brain injuries, internal bleeding or death.
Why Do Falls in Hospitals Happen?
Some patients may be more at risk for falling than others. Medication side effects, problems with balance, or bathroom needs can put patients at higher risk. For example, certain medications may cause dizziness and disorientation. If the needs of these patients are not met, they are much more likely to fall.
How Can Hospital Falls Be Prevented?
Coordination between staff: Hospital staff must work together to prevent falls. The AHRQ claims that doctors, pharmacists, nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, patients and families should have a workable and effective plan in place to prevent patients from falling.
Identify risk factors: Each patient will have different risk factors based on their circumstances. The AHRQ claims fall prevention plans should be customized based on the specific needs of patients.
Keep patient needs in mind: Some patients will have different bathroom or movement needs. The AHRQ claims fall prevention strategies should include these needs.
Keep patient areas uncluttered: The AHRQ claims hospital staff should never leave objects lying about that present fall hazards to patients. Wet surfaces caused by spills are also a hazard.
Make sure patients understand call lights: Call lights allow patients to alert staff during emergencies. Make sure patients know where these are so they can alert staff when they need to move about their rooms.
Use nonslip footwear: Hospitals can help prevent falls by ensuring patients are constantly using nonslip footwear.
Use wheelchair and bed brakes: Hospitals beds and wheelchairs have brakes, and using them can ensure that patients remain stationary.
This is not an exhaustive list of all fall prevention methods. In fact, the sheer number of fall prevention methods should point how the number of different way patients can become injured by falls!
When patients are injured by falls, they can develop secondary health conditions and be subjected to longer hospital stays. Patients injured by falls and their family members may have legal options to hold hospitals accountable.
The Tampa Bay medical malpractice attorneys at Shapiro Law Group have decades of experiencing helping patients who have been harmed by hospital negligence.