How One Rural Hospital Prevents Patient Falls

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , October 2, 2013

"We called it All Hands on Deck and actually educated everybody in the hospital, even volunteers and housekeeping staff," McCully says. "People that might not have much patient contact but might be passing by a room and see a patient out of bed with their yellow socks on and knew that was not where they needed to be and they'd go and check with the nurse and tell her that the patient needed some assistance."

Other simple tactics included posting white board notices in patients' rooms assessing their fall risks and listing precautions. "It noted if the patient was a high risk or a standard risk for a fall, what their level of need was as far as what kind of equipment they needed to transfer from, say the bed to the toilet, whether they needed a walker or how many people needed to assist," McCully says. "Those things were hardwired into the white board on the wall so all the nurse or staff member had to do was circle what the precaution was that that patient needed."

The hospital also posted a "fall calendar" on its website marking the number of consecutive says since the last fall—which stood at 258 days when McCully and I spoke this week. "This was an obvious way to show that the staff was keeping track of these things and that they are making a difference," she says.

Patients are also made aware of fall risks. "We have a fall agreement that we use with patients where it is appropriate to bring them on board with what their plan is as far as fall prevention," McCully says.

"We want them to understand that we know you may not like to call for help because you are used to being independent. But you are in a hospital. Things are not the same here as they are at home and you need to let us help you when you get up to go to the bathroom or whatever. Nurses and staff members on the floor do a good job of educating them."

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