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Fall Prevention Study Focuses on Wearable Sensors

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, for HealthLeaders Media, May 20, 2014

Researchers hope to learn whether small sensors attached to patients can help identify those at risk for falls.

Up to 1 million people in the United States fall in hospitals every year, says Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and when they do, the effects can be far-reaching. Patient falls are not only a safety issue, but a financial one as well.

According to the American Nurse Today, "The average hospital stay for patients who fall is 12.3 days longer, and injuries from falls lead to a 61% increase in patient-care costs."

In addition, if patients injure themselves after falling and their hospital stay is longer, hospitals run the risk of not being reimbursed, says Cindy Rishel, RN, PhD, OCN, administrator of nursing research and practice for the University of Arizona Medical Center-University Campus.

Despite using a falls risk model to identify which patients were at risk for falls, Rishel says her organization's falls rate—considered to be a nursing-sensitive indicator—was all over the map.

"I'm continually looking at the quality data for the entire organization," she says. "Our falls rate was not where we wanted it to be… we [couldn't] seem to get consistent improvement."

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