Hundreds of thousands of patients fall each year, and the risk of falling is even greater for hospitalized patients due to an unfamiliar environment. The good news is, nearly a third of these falls can be prevented, which is exactly what the teams on 4- and 5-North set out to do.
“Focusing on fall prevention is especially important on Telemetry because our patients are often on medications that affect their hemodynamics,” says Telemetry manager Nathan Alarcon. “This can cause a decrease in blood pressure which may lead to dizziness and possibly a syncopal episode.”
One of the keys to preventing patient falls is getting back to basics – something as simple as turning on the bed alarm. It’s not difficult to do and it doesn’t take a lot of time, but without a conscious effort, it is easily overlooked.
The Telemetry units worked to create awareness and impress upon staff the importance of turning bed alarms on in order to reduce falls and as a result, they raised their compliance to above 90%.
With bed alarm compliance up, a subgroup on 4-North began working on another important fall prevention initiative: increasing patient activity levels, specifically among open heart surgery patients. Mobility is medicine, and the more we increase patient activity levels, the stronger the patient will be and the less likely they are to fall. Recognizing this, the subgroup had a dual objective: to get patients in a chair for at least three meals and ambulate them at least four times per day. After only three weeks, 87% of patients are being ambulated and 57% are eating in a chair!
Special kudos to the 4-North coordinators who have been key to the success of this initiative, and to the subgroup that has been working hard to get their patients up and moving in order to prevent falls.
Over the next several weeks, the work of the subgroup will be expanded to include all of 4- and 5-North. We wish them the best of luck in implementing this important fall prevention initiative and look forward to hearing about their success in a future issue of Scene.