Preventing patient falls is among the top quality improvement initiatives under way at hospitals across California. Health care professionals understand that quality improvement is an ongoing, continuous process. Advancing a culture of safety within every health care organization is key to this process.
In 2008, Providence St. Joseph Medical Center (PSJMC) in Burbank concentrated on reducing patient falls, with the goal of improving the safety of care the hospital provides. Based on a review of patient records, the hospital found that it had an average of 21 patient falls per month. 80 percent of the falls occurred when patients were moving about their room – particularly when they were attempting to use the restroom.
In 2009, a trend was identified at Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center in San Luis Obispo. Upon analysis, it was discovered that the patient fall rate exceeded the state average and that the rate of falls with injury was trending upward.
Patient falls are among the most common causes of non-fatal injuries in hospitals. According to the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, about half of the patients who fall while hospitalized may suffer moderate to severe injuries that reduce mobility and independence.
Hospitalized patients, particularly those over age 65, are at greater risk for falls because of the unfamiliar environment in which they are being treated, illnesses and medications they are taking.