fall precautions

Each year anywhere from 700,000 to 1,000,000 patients fall in medical facilities. These falls can lead to cuts, fractures, or serious injuries.

It’s important to keep your clinic's fall count down. Not only for patient safety but also to keep your incidence reporting favorable.

Luckily, fall prevention is an easy issue to control. With the right fall precautions and protocols set up at your facility, you can watch your fall counts drop dramatically.

Let’s look at 8 easy ways your clinic can prevent falls.

1. Identify High-Risk Patients

Knowing which patients are at a greater fall risk will help you head off an injury before one occurs.

Read through the patient chart. Identify any clues in the patient history that would make them a known fall risk. These factors include age, medication use, history of dizziness or lightheadedness, weakness, and low blood pressure.

Once you know who’s at a greater risk for injury, visual clues give other clinicians and staff an easy way to identify who needs extra attention. These visual clues could be a high-risk patient armband or a fall risk sign outside their room.

By making it easy to identify these patients, correct protocols can ensure the patient’s safety.

2. Eliminate Obstacles

Take a look around the clinic. Are there items creating obstacles for patients that could cause them to trip or become unsteady? Clearing out anything that might get in the path of your patients is sure to keep your clinic’s fall count down.

Look for low furniture pieces like coffee tables, plant stands, or step stools. Make sure there are no phone or power cords laying in walkways. And clear the halls of too many carts, chairs, or other equipment.

Also, make sure all furniture is stable and any broken pieces get fixed ASAP. A wobbly chair or broken armrest could cause a patient to become unbalanced.

Then orient the patient to their surroundings. When they are more familiar with where they are, it will be easier for them to get around.

3. Keep Ambulatory Aids and Other Items Close by

Using ambulatory aids is a great way to help patients move about safely and comfortably. They provide a way to transfer body weight to keep patients steady and give much needed extra support.

Common ambulatory aids are crutches, walking canes, walkers, and wheelchairs. Other aids clinics can use are gait belts, transfer boards, and recliners that rise to help patients stand.

Plus, ensure everything the patient needs is within easy reach. That includes things like call lights and tissues. Having common items close by prevents patients from having to reach too far over and potentially lose their balance.

4. Install Assistive Devices

An effective fall prevention strategy is the use of assistive devices. These devices give patients a little something extra to hold on to. Or they can make everyday tasks a bit easier.

Install handrails down hallways and along staircases for easier walking. Grip bars near toilets allow patients to sit down and stand up with less effort. Raised toilet seats also give patients less distance to travel between them and the toilet.

If your clinic has showers or bathtubs, install grab bars in the bathing areas. Or a sturdy plastic seat with a handheld showerhead will make bathing easier and safer.

5. Have Adequate Lighting

You can never have too much light. Keeping your clinic light and bright will prevent patients from tripping over objects that are hard to see. This is especially true for patients who have trouble with their eyesight.

Motion sensor lighting makes it easy to keep rooms and hallways lit, without the need to hunt and reach for light switches. Touch lamps are easy for patients to turn on and off, especially if they have arthritis. And nightlights brighten up those darker corners.

Even something as simple as installing brighter lightbulbs can make a big difference.

6. Install Safe Flooring

Flooring is super important for keeping your patients safe. Having the right surfaces underfoot can make getting around easier on everyone.

Check carpeted floors for loose spots or any areas that look worn. Secure all edges and seams so that a foot can’t get caught and cause a fall.

Be careful about area rugs. Patients with mobility issues may not be able to step over the edge well enough. Same goes for flooring transitions from room to room, make sure the heights are all even to eliminate tripping hazards.

If you have smooth surfaces on your clinic floors, be sure they’re non-skid. And always clean up spills or wet floors promptly to avoid slips.

7. Keep Patients Busy

An occupied patient is one that will be less likely to get up to move around. This can save a fall when staff is particularly busy.

Activities to give patients can include reading books or magazines. Keeping a tv on close by with their favorite shows on. Or even having WIFI available for those tech-savvy patients.

Having a patient sitter stay with them has the benefit of not only keeping the patient occupied, it gives an extra set of care-giving eyes when staff is unavailable.

8. Keep Outdoor Walkways Clear as Well

Outdoor walkways are just as important as indoors. So don’t limit your fall precautions to inside the clinic only.

Bad weather can cause fall hazards. Use ice melt on slippery walkways. Or when it’s rainy, lay down mats and precaution signs while mopping up what you can.

Also, keep the area clean of trash, debris, or anything else left on outdoor walkways. And make sure the walkways are level to avoid tripping hazards.

Use Fall Precautions to Keep Your Clinic and Patients Safe

Caring for patients is your top priority. And with these tips, you can set up fall precautions that will keep everybody safe and healthy.

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Preventing falls and fall-related injuries in health care facilities

Falls are leading cause of injury and death in older Americans

Falls: Prevention in nursing care facilities and the hospital setting