Spurred by new Medicare policies that deny reimbursements for some patient falls and state laws that require hospitals to report fall rates, hospitals are increasingly adopting aggressive measures to prevent patient falls, NPR reports. For example, patients at Massachusetts-based Fairview Hospital are screened for fall risk upon admission and are then screened once per day throughout their hospital stay. Patients considered at high risk for falls are provided with yellow socks and yellow blankets so they can be quickly identified and are admitted to rooms equipped with bed alarms that alert staff if a patient is attempting to get out of bed unassisted. Other strategies employed by hospitals include lowering beds, avoiding medications that could impair a patient's balance and administering diuretics before bedtime so that patients are less likely to get up during the night to use the bathroom. Although some hospitals also restrain patients at high risk for falls, most concede that this should be used as a last resort only when other strategies have failed (Pfeiffer, NPR, 9/8/09). (c) RWJF, 2009
INQRI grantees, Patti Dykes and Blackford Middleton are also addressing fall risk in their project "Translating Fall Risk Status into Interventions to Prevent Patient Falls." Their project is addressing gaps in knowledge by establishing linkages between nursing fall risk assessment, risk communication and tailored interventions to prevent falls. The goal of this study is to prevent patient falls by translating an individual patient's fall risk assessment into a decision support intervention. This innovative intervention will communicate fall risk status and create a tailored evidence-based plan of care that is accessible to interdisciplinary team members, paraprofessionals, patients and family members.