Protecting Hospitalized Elders From Falling

Mara Ferris, MS, RN, GCNS-BC, CPHQ, FASCP

Disclosures

Topics in Advanced Practice Nursing eJournal. 2008;8(4) 

In This Article

Patient Falls in the Hospital Setting

The topic of fall prevention among hospitalized patients has received a lot of attention in recent years. Considering the prevalence of falls in hospitals and the personal, institutional, and financial consequences of these falls, the attention is well deserved. Not just older patients fall during hospital stays, but the elderly are more likely to fall and to be seriously injured when they fall than patients in other age groups.[1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20,21,22]

Although advanced age is an independent risk factor for falls, only a minority of elderly patients fall during hospitalization. Research has identified characteristics other than age that increase patients' risk for falls, including history of falls, cognitive impairment, visual impairment, gait and balance disorders, musculoskeletal disorders, weakness, use of assistive devices for mobility, incontinence or need for assistance with toileting, and depression.[1,5,7,9,13,15,18,20,23,24,25,26,27] Also strongly implicated are polypharmacy and the use of high-risk medications (ie, drugs associated with falls in patients who take them).[13,28,29,30,31,32,33,34,35,36,37,38,39] Additional factors have been strongly implicated in falls among elderly patients, but many of these cannot be easily managed or corrected in the short-term, acute care stay (eg, vitamin D deficiency).

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