Preventing an Elderly Hospital Fall: What Hospital Staff Should Do

In Orlando hospitals, an elderly hospital fall is a serious concern. On the one hand, it can inflict fear in older people, causing them to limit their own mobility and thereby decrease their quality of life. On the other hand, an elderly hospital fall can lead to serious injury and even death. It is also costly. In the United States, in 2000, non-fatal hospital falls among the elderly cost $12 billion. Considering the number of aging Baby Boomers, that cost is only increasing.

“Elderly patients in hospitals and nursing homes are among  the most vulnerable patients that require staff care.  There is simply no excuse when neglect of these fragile people results in an injury from falling,” says Orlando lawyer Jeff Badgley.

How Hospitals Can Prevent Elderly Falls and Malpractice

Falls and fall injury in hospitals are “the most frequently reported adverse event among adults in the inpatient setting.” Hospitals often have patient safety programs to prevent these kinds of falls. The Florida Hospital Association (FHA) is part of the Hospital Engagement Network (HEN), and one of their 2.0 focus topics is ‘Injuries from Falls and Immobility‘. (Click HERE to view a list of participating hospitals in Florida.) The first HEN program (from 2011 to 2014) prevented an estimated 1,331 falls. HEN 2.0 aims to reduce falls by at least 40 percent or maintain a rate of zero for a full year.

Preventing Injury and Death from an Elderly Hospital Fall

The American Nurses’ Association’s (ANA) maintains a database use to measure the quality of nursing care – the National Database of Nursing Quality Indicators. This important quality measurement tool actually links patient injury rates (which are most commonly related to falls) “with availability and quality of professional nursing services.”

HEN 2.0 outlines what they and other hospital staff should do to prevent elderly falls:

  1. Communicate – By communicating among themselves and with patients and their families, care providers can better assess the risk factors for a particular patient. In some cases, they can educate the patients and their families in order to prevent falls.
  2. Identify risk factors – When considering and identifying risk factors, care providers can determine ways to create a safer environment for each patient and modify the environment accordingly to prevent falls.
  3. Aiding mobility – When hospitalized, it is not uncommon for elderly patients to become less mobile as a result of their circumstances. Decreased mobility can lead to problems such as decreased muscle strength and bone density, which in turn can increase the risk for falling. Incorporating activity into the patient’s treatment plan can help them maintain mobility.

Hospitals, nursing homes, and other health care facilities must make the above steps a standard practice. This places the burden on the managers and the staff of these facilities to create a culture of awareness. With this awareness, our Central Florida hospitals can better prevent their vulnerable elderly patients from falling and avoid the resulting injury or death. If someone you love was injured or killed during a fall while hospitalized, it is possible that it resulted from negligence. To find out more information, contact Orlando medical malpractice attorney Jeff Badgley at 407-781-0420.

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