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Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Patient Falls from Hospital Beds


Patient falls continue to be a serious problem for hospitals. Although hospitals have implemented strategies to reduce and prevent falls, patient falls still make up the largest single category of reported hospital incidents.1

Patient falls are more common in the elderly, as patients over the age of 65 are 9 times more likely to experience hospital falls than any other age category.2 As the United States population continues to age, the number of senior patient falls is expected to rise 78.8% from 2010, without accounting for immigration or extended life expectancies.3 As a result, hospitals should anticipate the growing at-risk population for falls and continue to redefine patient fall prevention strategies.

Among seniors, falls are the leading cause of death due to injury. Falls are the most common cause of nonfatal injuries, and can result in fractures, sprains, or concussions.4 Serious head injuries can occur as a result of patient falls, including a subdural hematoma (the bleeding of the brain), which is three times more likely to occur in senior falls.1 A subdural hematoma can lead to further complications including severe brain herniation, which can be fatal.5


CHG Hospitals - Patient Fall Prevention


Though a low-velocity fall can sound non-threatening to the average person, serious complications are more prone to occur in older patients and can trigger repeat fall events and injuries.1 Prevention measures should be put in place in order to minimize risk factors and minimize patient injury as a result of falls.


Height of Patient Beds

The height of patient beds has been identified as a possible contributing factor in patient falls, as the height of a typical hospital bed is often higher than what a patient may be used to at home.1 This is especially likely considering that seniors already experience decreased mobility and may already need assistance when exiting a bed at home. A foreign environment like a patient room paired with a higher bed height could alter a patient’s perception or cause a patient to overestimate their ability, which may result in a trip or fall when exiting the bed.

Aging factors such as cognitive perception and mobility already disadvantage seniors and put this age group at a greater risk of falls. An increased bed height could further increase the risk of falls and cause a greater risk of serious injury.

Patient Falls from Bed

Ergonomist Dr. John Lloyd conducted a study to determine the link between bed height and fall injury risk. Using a CHG Spirit Plus adjustable hospital bed and a 6 inch thick CHG mattress, Dr. Lloyd measured the impact of a patient falling from bed from heights ranging from 9 inches to 34 inches from the floor. Three test dummies were used to simulate a small, average, and large patient falling both head and feet first onto a hard surface. Dr. Lloyd then compared the data to injury thresholds to determine fall injury risk.1

The findings of Dr. Lloyd’s study include:
  • There is a significant risk of skull or brain injury from patient falls onto a hard floor surface
  • The risk of head and brain injury is directly proportional to bed height and patient mass
  • The risk of head and brain injury increases as bed height increases1


At the conclusion of the study, it was recommended that hospitals use the lowest height patient beds alongside bedside fall mats in order to minimize the risk of serious head injury.1 A lower bed height can significantly reduce the impact of a fall by minimizing the distance from the floor. The bedside fall mat can act as a cushion to protect a patient from severe head injury that could result from falling onto a hard surface. A patient’s level of comfort and safety can also be improved with the use of a low hospital bed, and can help the patient feel at ease away from home.

Using a low hospital bed in conjunction with a bedside fall mat can be an integral part of a hospital’s fall prevention strategy as recommended not only by Dr. Lloyd, but by The Joint Commission, and the FDA. Seniors already face increased risk of complications and injury from hospital bed falls, which is why every precaution should be taken when treating fall-risk patients.

For more information about CHG Hospital Beds visit our website at www.chgbeds.com and for more information about Dr. John Lloyd, please visit his website at www.drergonomics.com.

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CHG Hospital Beds specializes in low hospital beds that are designed to prevent patient falls and related injuries within acute care environments. We are focused on patient and nurse safety and deliver innovative solutions to meet the needs of our customers.

Sources:

1Lloyd, J. (2011). Biomechanical Evaluation of Patient Falls from Bed. San Antonio, FL: Dr. John Lloyd.
2Public Health Agency of Canada. (2009). Risk Factors for Falls and Fall-Related Injuries in Seniors. Public Health Agency of Canada. Retrieved from http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/seniors-aines/publications/pro/injury-blessure/falls-chutes/chap3-eng.php
3McFarlin Group. (2010). Aging Trends. McFarlin Group. Retrieved from http://www.mcfarlin-group.com/aging-trends/
4Iowa Department of Public Health. (2011). Fall Injury Report. Iowa Department of Public Health. Retrieved from http://www.public-health.uiowa.edu/iprc/resources/FallReport_Apr2011.pdf
5PubMed Health. (2010). Subdural Hematoma. PubMed Health. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001732/


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5 Comments:

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