In 2015, the Joint Commission reported that fall-related injuries in health care facilities are a prevalent problem — and largely preventable. Hundreds of thousands of hospital patients fall each year, and 30 to 50 percent suffer injuries from the fall. A hospital fall can add an average of 6.3 days to a hospital stay on average and increase the hospital bill by $14,000 or more.
The research indicates the most common causes of hospital fallsare communication failures, a lack of safety practices, inadequate staffing levels or supervision, and/or deficiencies in the physical environment.
Risk factors for hospital falls
Some people have a higher likelihood of falling in the hospital setting. These traits or conditions can make a patient a fall risk:
- Recovering from surgery
- Certain medications, such as antipsychotics or sedatives
- Cognitive impairment
- Vertigo or dizziness
- Gait or balance problems
Reducing fall risk
Hospitals do have many strategies to reduce the number of falls, but there has not been any sustained reduction. Falls continue to occur. The Joint Commission, which accredits 21,000 healthcare facilities, recommends an interdisciplinary approach to fall prevention, involving all the teams and staff who are caring for a patient. Part of fall prevention must be tailored to each individual patient, while other aspects should be routine procedures that keep every person in the hospital safe.
Even with a higher risk of a hospital fall, patients should expect to be safe. Patients who are at stay need focused care which addresses the risk. For example, the patient may need to be assisted in and out of bed, or accompanied when walking. This is simply part of the care that needs to be provided.
Hospital falls can be serious
Although the hospital provides care following a fall, your insurance company may not cover the added expenses of what is called a sentinel event. If you or a loved one has been injured in a fall during your hospital stay, it can be difficult to hold the proper entity liable. You may need to speak to an attorney for a full investigation into your claim. The hospital has a duty of care for everyone to prevent further injuries during an illness.