are hospitals doing enough to prevent patient falls

The Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare — the health care advocacy organization comprised of some of the nation’s foremost hospitals and health systems that utilizes “a systematic approach to analyze specific breakdowns in care and discover their underlying causes” — recently released a new online resource designed to combat one of the more prevalent dangers in U.S. hospitals: patient falls.

How big of a danger are patient falls?

Statistics show tens of thousands of hospital patients will suffer a fall every year and anywhere from 30-35 percent of these patients will suffer some type of serious injury. From a purely monetary perspective, per patient these falls add 6.3 days to a hospital stay at a cost of about $14,056.

Compounding problems for hospitals is the fact the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has placed “falls and trauma” resulting in injury on the Hospital Acquired Conditions list, meaning failures to prevent this type of harm will result in financial penalties.

What does this online resource tool do?

It’s an online application that essentially enables a hospital to measure both the fall rate and fall rate with injuries among patients, uncover causes and potential barriers and implement specific solutions designed to enhance fall prevention.  

Does it work?

According to the Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare, the seven hospitals that agreed to take part in the pilot program saw fall rates decline by 35 percent and fall rates with injuries decline by 62 percent.

What benefits could a hospital expect from adopting this online resource tool?

The long-term projections from the pilot program indicate a 200-bed hospital could expect to see the number of patient falls drop by 72 per year at a savings of roughly $1 million, while a 400-bed hospital could expect to see the number of patient falls drop by 133 per year at a savings of roughly $2 million. 

It’s certainly good to see more hospitals are starting to pay attention to this very serious and largely avoidable patient safety issue. Here’s hoping more take the time to implement the safety tool. 

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