Martha Jefferson Healthwise: Fall Risks

Nov. 27, 2013

Martha Jefferson Hospital is trying to prevent the risk of falls for patients. They're putting a new risk level ranking system in place to determine risk factors and some safety measures to keep patients from falling.

Anyone can be at risk for a fall if they're a patient at the hospital.

According to nurse manager Abby Denby, it's a serious matter. Injuries can range from a bruise to death.

"Falling in the hospital is a nationwide concern. People are here to get better and we certainly don't want them falling. You can have a severe injury from falling and it will set you back in your recovery," said Abby Denby, Nurse Manager, Martha Jefferson Hospital.

Denby says they've seen all kinds of falls and most of them take place when a patient goes to the bathroom.

"About 60 percent of falls are bathroom related. So, it's very important. We work very hard for privacy while you're in the hospital but it's important for everybody to know that safety trumps privacy. So, when we take you to the bathroom, it's not uncommon for us to stay with you while you are in the bathroom because so many falls are related to people getting up and trying to go to the bathroom," said Denby.

The hospital has already put several measures in place to identify at-risk patients, like having them wear a yellow wrist band, yellow socks and having an alarm sound off if they try to get out of the bed.

Starting on December 3, 2013, they'll break down the risk levels with a new ranking system.

Nurses will complete an assessment to determine if a patient is at a low, moderate or high risk for falls.

"They look at things like your mobility level, have you fallen previously, your age, what medications are you taking and the assessment tool will be scored and put you either at a low risk for falls or moderate risk or high risk for falls," said Denby.

Denby says having a level system will allow a more individualized approach to fall prevention.

Their goal is to keep patients out of harm’s way and allow them to recover from the original medical issue that first brought them to the hospital.

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