Program May Cut Down on Patient Falls in Hospitals

Fall prevention tool kit presents interventions based on patient-specific areas of risk

TUESDAY, Nov. 2 (HealthDay News) -- A fall-prevention program using health information technology can significantly reduce falls in short-stay hospital settings, according to research published in the Nov. 3 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Patricia C. Dykes, R.N., of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, and colleagues analyzed data from 10,264 patients in hospital units that were either providing usual care or using a fall prevention tool kit (FPTK). The FPTK uses health information technology to create interventions tailored to patient-specific factors linked to fall risk, along with materials such as bed posters, plans of care, and patient education documents.

The researchers found that, over the six-month intervention, fall rates were higher in control units than in intervention units (4.18 versus 3.15 per 1,000 patient days). The FPTK appeared particularly effective in patients aged 65 and older (adjusted rate difference, 2.08 per 1,000 patient days). However, the intervention was not associated with a significant effect on fall-related injuries.

"Because patient falls in hospitals are a major risk factor for fractures and other injuries, reducing falls is an important first step toward injury prevention, and any reduction in patient falls has clinical significance. The FPTK was designed specifically to reduce falls. We believe that reducing falls will ultimately reduce injury, but the FPTK was not designed to affect fall-related injury directly," the authors write.

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