Act Now! Develop a Fall Prevention and Protection Program
Whether caring for a patient at home or in a facility, fall prevention, and protection can be a major challenge. Patients with higher risk factors such as lower body muscle weakness, balance or vision issues, and memory disorders require intervention to minimize the risk of injury from falling.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 800,000 patients are hospitalized each year due to injuries sustained from a fall, and millions of patients over 65 visit the emergency room yearly as a result of falling.
To Lessen the Likelihood of Falling, Minimize your Facility’s Hazardous Conditions
Ensuring that patients wear appropriate footwear, removing obstacles in walkways, and encouraging the use of mobility assist devices can greatly reduce the fall risk of ambulatory patients. For non-ambulatory patients, there are also a variety of preventive and protective measures that can be taken.
Placing the patient’s bed in a very low position is a good way to minimize injury from an egress fall if the patient is at risk of falling out of bed. Many extended care beds lower to 7” above the floor to lessen the likelihood of injury from falling, and such beds can then be raised to a convenient height for caregivers to access or provide care to the resident.
In addition to a low bed, you can add a bedside fall protection mat, shown above, to reduce injury in the event of a fall, as well as a bed alarm, shown at below left, to warn caregivers if the patient is attempting to exit the bed without assistance.
The use of a defined perimeter mattress, shown at above right, helps prevent rolling out of bed and gives the patient a reference point for the edge of the mattress.
Wider sleep surfaces lessen the likelihood of falling.
Extended care beds are available in greater widths, either with add-on width kits or built-in width extensions such as the SLIDE-W-I-D-E expandable/retractable sleep deck, shown above.
For High-Risk Patients, Use Patient Lifts
Types of Patient Lifts
There are various kinds of patient lifts.
A Floor Lift, shown above, is recommended where the resident is not able to support themself and must be completely supported by the lift.
A Sit-to-Stand Lift, shown above, is ideal for patient transfers when the patient is actively and mentally able to participate and is weight-bearing in both legs. These lifts are designed for patients who have difficulty standing up on their own from a seated position and vice versa.
Use the correct Lift Sling
When using a patient lift, it is also important to select the appropriate style AND size Lift Sling so that the patient is fully supported. Using a lift may take a little more time, but the safety benefits are considerable.
Using a patient lift is safer for BOTH the caregiver and the patient.
Using these guidelines, act preemptively and ensure your facility puts a fall prevention and protection program in place. Your patients and caregivers are worth it!
National Center for Injury Prevention and Control: Web–based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS)
Nancy Prossick is a Marketing Manager and Kessler Colson is a Product Manager at Graham-Field.
About GF Health Products, Inc.Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, with more than 300 US-based employees, GF Health Products, Inc. is a major manufacturer of healthcare products for the acute care, extended care, homecare and primary care markets. The Graham-Field family of brands includes Basic American Medical Products, Everest & Jennings, Grafco, Hausted, John Bunn, Labtron, Lumex and Lumiscope. Visit www.grahamfield.com or call 770-368-4700.