At hospitals around the country rehab nurses are playing an essential role in reducing fall risk by educating their colleagues, in addition to their patients, according to an Advanced Healthcare Network for Nurses article.
At the Chicago-based Schwab Rehabilitation Hospital, nurses provide fall risk education to patients who also undergo a fall risk assessment at the time of admission. Schwab also uses stoplight model signs to identify the level of fall risk (green for low; yellow for moderate; and red for high) attached to patients’ beds and wheelchairs.
Additionally, rehab nurses at Schwab meet with hospital staff in other departments, including therapy, dietary, and environmental services, to educate them on the importance of notifying a nurse when a patient is at risk of falling. As a result of these efforts, Schwab has reduced their fall rate from 7.86 to 3.9 per 1,000 patient days over the course of a year.
INQRI grantees Patti Dykes and Blackford Middleton created a tool designed to prevent patient falls by translating an individual patient's fall risk assessment into a decision support intervention that communicates fall risk status, and creates a tailored plan that is accessible to care team members (including patients and family members).
The team constructed the Fall Prevention Toolkit (FPTK), and conducted a randomized controlled trial to examine whether the FPTK led to a decrease in the incidence of patient falls and a decrease in the incidence of patient falls with injury. The use of their toolkit did significantly lower the incidence of falls in the intervention units and several units wished to continue using the tool after the conclusion of the study. By establishing links between nursing fall risk assessment, risk communication and tailored interventions to prevent falls, Dykes and Middleton hope to raise awareness of fall risks for patients, nurses and other providers and to lower mortality and morbidity for potential fall victims.