Falls: It Can Happen to Anyone
By Jay Hamilton-Roque, BSN, RN, TNS, CEN | November 9, 2018
Everyone’s talking about falls after the oldest justice on the U.S. Supreme Court fell Wednesday and fractured three ribs, landing Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the hospital.
While many hear the word “fall” and think of something minor, those in healthcare understand how serious falls can be. The CDC reports 29 million falls take place annually and result in three million emergency department visits and even 28,000 deaths. The cost is more than $30 billion a year to Medicare.
Falls management might seem complex, but there are resources to make it easy for your staff and sustainable.
1. Conduct a facility assessment.
At Medline, a team conducts an evaluation of a hospital’s current falls management policies, staff education/ engagement, and external risk factors for falls. Don’t forget to look around and see the whole patient experience. Some areas to watch:
- Hand rails in the hallways and bathroom
- Adequate lighting in patient care areas
- Flooring glare
- Shower Grip
- Clutter in patient care areas
By looking at these factors, your falls management program becomes customized and not a blanket, one-size fits all approach.
2. Identify a falls management champion.
The falls management champion is someone who will empower the entire staff and lead the program. The champion will also work with the Medline representative to help with reevaluating the facility on a monthly basis. Having the data will help determine where there are gaps. The champion is invaluable for any long-term success.
3. Involve everyone.
Many hospitals and long-term care facilities might already have a falls management committee, but that’s not everyone. By speaking to all CNA’s, nurses, pharmacists, environmental services, risk managers, administrators, anyone whose work touches the patient, there’s complete buy-in because all issues and concerns are being heard. A falls management program should also evolve with a staff because everyone is sharing.
Get the support needed to conduct evaluations, education and capture data to reduce falls.
Jay Hamilton-Roque, BSN, RN, TNS, CEN
Clinical Program Development Manager
Jay Hamilton-Roque is a Clinical Program Development Manager at Medline. Previously, he worked in intensive care units, emergency rooms and with trauma patients. Hamilton-Roque is a certified emergency nurse and trauma nurse specialist. He is a member of the American Nurses Association and the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Bradley University.