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National Patient Safety Foundation Awards Research Grant for Innovative Project Investigating Environmental Factors Involved in Patient Falls

Boston, MA (PRWEB) August 20, 2013

The National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF) has awarded a $100,000 grant for an innovative patient safety research project that will examine the mechanisms underlying patient falls in the hospital and formulate recommendations for improved facility design. Led by principal investigator Debajyoti Pati, PhD, Rockwell Professor, Department of Design, College of Human Sciences, Texas Tech University, this project brings together the perspectives of multiple disciplines, including architecture and design, classical mechanics, and nursing.

The goals of the study are to identify and examine elements of the physical environment of inpatient hospital rooms that may contribute to falls and to develop design recommendations that may help reduce fall risk.

Patient falls are among the most serious adverse events reported in US hospitals. An estimated 2% to 10% of hospital stays involve a fall, with 30% of these resulting in serious injury. While research into contributing factors has been fairly extensive, it has largely focused on patient-specific conditions, such as age, use of medications, and the presence of visual or other impairment. Dr. Pati’s study will focus on physical design factors, such as layout of rooms and bathrooms, fixtures, fittings and furnishings in the room, and available assistive devices. Specifically, the researchers seek to identify design elements that may contribute to falls when patients attempt to walk from the bed to the bathroom, and to rank the risks by importance.

“Almost all decisions pertaining to the physical environment of a hospital room are made during the design phase of a health care facility,” Dr. Pati said. “We intend to focus on factors that designers are able to manipulate that are associated with falls.”

“The NPSF Board of Directors joins me in congratulating Dr. Pati,” said Tejal K. Gandhi, MD, MPH, president of NPSF. “Patient falls are a serious and long-standing problem in health care, and this work promises to provide much-needed insight into environmental contributors and potential prevention strategies.”

The research team will work with international health care design firm, HKS, Inc. The HKS architectural team will design room mock-ups that will incorporate the latest patient care protocol and technology while adhering to current design and construction codes and guidelines.

According to Tom Harvey, FAIA, MPH, FACHA, LEED AP, principal with HKS, until researchers understand which elements of the physical environment have an impact on falls and why, design teams cannot be truly evidence-informed in their designs. “By partnering in this project we hope to engage in meaningful research that advances the industry and builds the much needed evidence base around this critical subject.”

The grant is awarded through the NPSF Research Grants Program, which promotes studies leading to the prevention of human errors, system errors, patient injuries, and their consequences, and which is supported in part by the members of the Foundation’s Board of Directors. Dr. Pati’s project was selected from 87 submissions reviewed by an independent expert committee. The 11-member committee was chaired by Bruce Lambert, PhD, professor of Pharmacy Administration at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Since 1998, NPSF has supported 39 research projects with more than $3.8 million in grant funding. For a compendium of research supported by the NPSF Research Grants Program, see the 2012 Research Program Summary of Progress report. To read more about the NPSF Research Grants Program and Dr. Pati’s study, visit

About the National Patient Safety Foundation
NPSF has been pursuing one mission since its founding in 1997 – to improve the safety of care provided to patients. As a central voice for patient safety, NPSF is committed to a collaborative, multi-stakeholder approach in all that it does. NPSF is an independent, not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization. To learn more about the work of the National Patient Safety Foundation, visit

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