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Can in-hospital falls really be prevented?
Date:7/6/2011

injurious falls, but it is unknown whether this data is applicable to typical inpatient hospital stays.

"Of course, hospitals should educate patients and the families, use bed rails, keep beds low, keep floors dry and clear of clutterall the common sense things that can reduce the risk of falls," said Terry A. Clyburn, MD, orthopaedic surgeon, University of Texas Medical School at Houston and co-author of the literature review. "But we found no proof that falls in hospital are, in fact, preventable. And if not, they should not be categorized as a preventable occurrence and the burden shouldn't be borne by hospitals."

The methods currently utilized by healthcare settings to reduce falls are either not harmful or do not increase risk and may be safely continued. Many patients who suffer falls in the hospital have internal risk factors, other conditions, or disabilities that increase their likelihood of falling, such as diabetes, Parkinson's disease, osteoporosis or arthritis, history of stroke, vision or hearing problems, malnutrition, dizziness and vertigo, incontinence, and the use of medications that can alter a person's mental status. Medication for internal medical risk factors may be modified to reduce falls, but evidence suggests there is no conclusive difference in the number of falls during typical, shorter length hospital stays at institutions with or without multifaceted falls prevention programs.

"You have a patient who already needs hospital care for another condition, who may have recently undergone general anesthesia, who may be on strong pain medication," Dr. Clyburn explains. "In the short time that the patient is admitted, it's difficult to also manage all the other risk factors that can contribute to a fall."

Falls-related injuries can have serious results:

  • Twenty percent of falls require medical attention;
  • Falls can be fatal, or can cause a decline in a person's health that eventually leads to deat
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Contact: Kayee Ip
ip@aaos.org
847-384-4035
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Source:Eurekalert

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