What Causes Inpatient Falls?

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  • Written By: Nick Mann
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 09 May 2020
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Inpatient falls are a perpetual concern for many hospitals and healthcare facilities. Even though most facilities take considerable precautions, there is always the potential for a fall. When preventative safety measures are not taken, the risk of a patient falling and suffering injury is much higher. In order to minimize inpatient falls, it's important to first understand what some of the most common causes are. These include a variety of environmental factors, the presence of elderly patients, medications, unstable equipment and acute illnesses.

One of the most common reasons for inpatient falls is simply environmental factors. For example, things like a slippery floor, loose rugs, insufficient lighting and clutter can all result in a fall. As a result, it's important that the staff of a healthcare facility perform routine maintenance to protect against these factors. Sweeping and mopping floors, keeping rugs in place and maintaining organization in a patient's room can all help prevent falls.

Patients over the age of 65 are particularly prone to these types of falls. While it's possible to experience inpatient falls at any age, older people who may have existing walking disabilities can have more difficulty with getting up and navigating through a room. In many cases, a fall will happen when getting in or out of bed, or when using the bathroom. Since elderly patients are more susceptible to falling, it's helpful to offer these patients walking aids, like canes or walkers. Additionally, these individuals should have special bathroom equipment like a bathtub transfer bench and bathtub bar.

Another big reason for inpatient falls is related to medication. It's only natural that many patient's in a healthcare facility will be prescribed some type of medication as a treatment. The problem is that some medications have side effects that can induce drowsiness, dizziness or impaired motor function. Consequently, it's a smart idea to continually monitor these patients and provide assistance when they are getting out of bed or moving around.

Along with this, unstable equipment can sometimes be an issue. Sometimes safety equipment like rails and walkers can malfunction, which often creates a problem with stability. To avoid these complications, staff members should routinely inspect safety equipment.

In addition, patients suffering from an acute illness can be prone to inpatient falls. For example, if a patient has severe arthritis or muscular problems, his motor coordination and balance could be thrown off. Besides this, seizures or a sudden stroke while in motion could result in a patient falling. Usually the best way to prevent this is to offer a patient a call button for assistance.


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