Preventing Nursing Home Falls

October 7, 2019
patient room safety infographic

Download a printable poster here.

 

Preventing Nursing Home Falls

As the population ages and life expectancy increases, more individuals require long-term care (LTC). One of the biggest challenges any LTC facility must manage is patient falls. Reducing the risk of nursing home falls not only keeps patients safe, but mitigates inflated medical costs and legal ramifications as well. Prevention is key to addressing this rising concern.

How Significant is the Problem?

Falls that occur within nursing homes are actually quite prevalent. Here are some important stats regarding their pervasiveness and impact, according to Industrial Safety & Hygiene News1:

  • A typical 100-bed facility reports 100 to 200 falls a year
  • Falls are the leading cause of ER visits for nursing home residents 
  • Adults 65 and older are 4X more likely to die of a fall-related injury if they live in a nursing home versus a private residence
  • 10%-20% of nursing home falls result in serious injury

Beyond the effect to the individual, there’s economic impact as well. According to a report from HUD, the cost to the healthcare system and society could be as high as $60 billion by 2020.2

The Leading Causes of Nursing Home Falls

According to the CDC, 16%-17% of nursing home falls are due to environmental hazards such as slick floors, ill-placed furniture, or other obstacles.3 Falls in these facilities can be attributed to a host of other reasons as well including:

  • Medication: Often, nursing home patients receive sedatives, painkillers, or other daily medicines that may have side effects like confusion, dizziness, and an unstable gait. Reducing the use of these drugs or limiting the activity of those that need them can moderate this risk.
  • Staffing inadequacies: With a typical 30 patient:1 nurse ratio, particularly during overnight shifts, more falls occur in LTCs during the night. With staff not readily able to respond, residents who waken in the dark hours decide to leave their beds without help, often resulting in falls. In these cases, bed alarms are a proactive step, activating when a resident leaves their bed for any reason.
  • Lack of proper equipment: High off the ground, nursing home beds may not be appropriately equipped to prevent falls. Bed rails, adjustable beds, bumpers and more can help to reduce crippling tumbles from these heights.
  • Existing health conditions: Certain chronic conditions, including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, can exaggerate an unsteady gait. Special supervision should be provided to patients with conditions that may lead to dizziness or weakness when the person stands suddenly.

In-room solutions for patient safety 

Successful patient safety programs start with ensuring every room is equipped with appropriate preventative measures designed to reduce the risk of falls, tripping, nighttime disorientation, and other wandering-related injuries. AliMed's wide-ranging, in-room safety devices are critical additions to any comprehensive Fall Management program, providing an additional layer of security for patients and caregivers. 

  1. Non-Alarmed Fall Mats — These impact-absorbing, durable mats help cushion falls and prevent serious injury. With a variety of thicknesses and styles— from ultra-thin, low-profile or multi-foldable, easy-to-store designs, to easy-to-clean, heat-sealed seams or slip-resistant nonskid bottoms—you'll find a mat to fit your patient's needs. 
  2. Bed Rails — AliMed offers an extensive selection of bed rails including traditional models to prevent falls when getting in and out of bed, and transfer handles to promote safer, easier bed mobility while lessening the risk of injury to both patients and caregivers. Bed safety rails assist in preventing accidental rolling out of bed and can be used in conjunction with other precautions to prevent head or limb entanglement and bruising or skin-tear injuries commonly caused by danger zone gaps in bed. 
  3. Edge Protection — Strategically placed, customizable edge protectors—including high-visibility color options to alert patients—securely attach to furniture or doorways and soften sharp corners and hazardous edges, adding another layer of protection for wandering or disoriented patients. Gap stuffers, Bed Bolsters, and Geri-Chair Positioners and Cushions go to the extra step, shielding against hard side rails and bed frames to prevent pressure sores and other skin-related injuries. 
  4. Trip PreventionAnti-slip maps, wireless night lights, and cord management devices such as ties and floor covers provide a second line of defense against common tripping threats. Cordless motion sensor lighting illuminates pathways and eliminates nightime tripping hazards for caregivers, wandering patients, and frequent risers. 
  5. Wandering Deterrents—Implementing a deterrent program utilizing door and window alarms, wireless or motion detectors, bed or chair sensor systems, and easily recognizable signs, provides effective and reliable safeguards against wandering.  
  6. References:

    1. https://www.ishn.com/articles/106828-typical-nursing-home-reports-100-200-patient-falls-per-year
    2. https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/healthy_homes/Senior_Falls
    3. https://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/adultfalls.html

    You may also be interested in:

Disclaimer

AliMed, Inc. is a manufacturer and distributor of medical supply products, and is not a medical authority. The contents contained in this article, including text, graphics, imagery, and other materials, are for informational and educational purposes only. AliMed does not provide or intend to provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and the information contained here should not be treated as such. If you have questions about a specific medical condition or specific personal use of a medical device, always consult your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

Although every effort has been made to present information that is accurate and true to the best of our knowledge, this content may contain omissions or errors. AliMed does not regularly update information or resources for this content and does not guarantee, make any warranties, and accepts no liability for the accuracy or completeness of the information presented.