Most of the past empirical studies reveal that both old and young patients are equally affected by falls in hospitals. However, patients who find themselves in this situation are often not assisted. This hospital situation also entails elimination-related activities (Tzeng & Yin, 2008). It is also crucial to mention that hospital falls among patients are contributed by individual patient characteristics and modifiable activities. Most of the falls take place when patients are unaided. In some instances, the affected patients may already be ambulating and hence, cannot be able to support themselves. Unless trained members of staff are increased in hospital settings, it may be cumbersome to reduce patient falls. There are some patients who must utilize ambulatory assistive devices so that they can support themselves. Unfortunately, a number of hospital environments often fail to provide such devices at the detriment of patients.
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One of the worst impacts of patient falls within working environments is that it creates confusion and delay for other patients and hospital staff who are using the same facility at any given time. In other words, any instance of a fall disorganizes the working environment and makes it difficult for other staff members to proceed with their duties. Once a patient falls, it creates an emergency situation that demands assistance. As a result, other progressing activities are halted for a moment in order to attend to the affected patient (Tzeng & Yin, 2008).
Second, patient falls are highly likely to congest or crowed workplaces because more than one nursing staff may be compelled to offer assistance and consequently block entrances and passages within a hospital facility. It is also prudent to mention that patient falls heavily contribute towards higher costs, elongated stay in hospitals and subsequent risks of harm among patients. These impacts equally jeopardize operations at workplace since medical doctors and nurses are forced to carry out additional tests and treatments to the affected patient.
The hospital members of staff are obliged to provide high quality care to patients who are at high risk of falling wile still under treatment (McAlister, 2009). This calls for regular diagnosis and tests for patients admitted in medical facilities so that it can be possible to establish their progress. The quality of care offered by nurses should be beyond reproach and above board. For instance, electronic event reporting systems can be utilized to monitor patients who are at high risk of falling. Needles to say, the costs associated with patient care can be significantly reduced if event reporting systems are integrated in the quality delivery of care to patients.
Canes and walkers should also be provided to ambulatory patients in a timely manner. It may be of no use to provide such devices long after a patient has sustained additional injuries owing to a fall. Quality care should revolve around taking proactive measures instead of reacting to events after they have occurred.
In cases whereby a hospital facility is not well equipped with assistive devices for patients who are vulnerable to fall, it is still the noble responsibility of the hospital staff to encourage family members to assist. Walking devices can be brought from homes to help patients who are in need. Nurses and other concerned medical officials should also conduct regular and effective therapy sessions for such patients as part and parcel of quality care delivery (McAlister, 2009).
As already hinted out, the worst patient outcomes of hospital falls is subsequent injuries coupled with additional healthcare/treatment costs. Older patients are grossly impacted when they fall. For instance, CDC reported that a total of US$30 billion was spent in 2012 as additional treatment cost for older patients who encountered hospital falls (Costs of Falls, 2014). Bearing in mind that this figure only captured medical facilities in the United States, the challenges posed by hospital falls are indeed enormous. Perhaps, it may also be pertinent to look at the gravity of the problem in the following three perspectives:
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- On an annual basis, about 33% of adults aged above 65 years encounter falls. The risk of dying early is increased since close to 30 percent of those who fall can hardly continue with their usually duties because of the sustained injuries.
- Fall-related injuries account for the highest number of hospital admissions among older people.
- About 2.4 million less fatal injuries sustained from falls were treated in the US healthcare facilities in 2012 alone. This treatment regime covered adults only. Some 722,000 cases were admitted in healthcare facilities (Costs of Falls, 2014).
The above magnitude of the problem is significant to nursing practice because it illuminates and highlights areas that need special focus in service delivery. There is urgent need to train surplus nursing care staff who can professionally and competently care for patients once they are admitted in hospitals.
Although bed alarms can minimize instances of patient falls, they are hardly used appropriately. When used correctly and professionally, a bed alarm can alleviate falls in the following ways:
- Offer instant warning to hospital staff when a patient is almost exiting the bed or has adjusted sleeping position.
- Offer instant warning if a patient has left the bed.
- Offer immediate alert if a patient is doing something wrong (Coussement et al., 2008).
Costs of Falls. (2014). Web.
Coussement, J., De Paepe, L., Schwendimann, R., Denhaerynck, K., Dejaeger, E., & Milisen, K. (2008). Interventions for Preventing Falls in Acute‐and Chronic‐Care Hospitals: A Systematic Review and Meta‐Analysis. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 56(1), 29-36.
McAlister, S. (2009). APR DRG weights and the relationship to patient falls. Nursing Economics, 27(2), 119-23.
Tzeng, H., & Yin, C. (2008). Nurses’ solutions to prevent inpatient falls in hospital patient rooms. Nursing Economics, 26(3), 179-87.