Falls occur everywhere, including in hospital, and can cause injury and functional decline. They are the result of the interaction between personal and environmental factors and are often associated with fear, depression, anxiety and loss of confidence in older people.
Many falls can be prevented; so we all need to be aware of our patients’ falls risks and respond appropriately.
This topic gives an overview of falls in hospital, assessing and responding to falls risk, and preventing and managing falls in hospital. In addition to following health service policy and procedures, consider the following actions and discuss them with colleagues and managers.
Falls in hospital
Falls contribute to longer stay, functional decline and may trigger residential aged care admission. Every person in hospital has risk factors for falling.
Identifying falls risks
Screening can determine whether a person has a low or high risk of falls and assessment of risk can inform the development of prevention strategies.
Falls prevention in hospital
Falls are a complex problem but with identification of causes and risk factors, many strategies can help reduce the risk of falls for older people in hospital.
Responding to falls
If a patient falls in hospital, review their risk status and refer to your health service’s policies and procedures for post-fall management guidelines.
Falls and discharge planning
A smooth transition from the hospital to home or residential aged care facility involves comprehensive and clear discharge planning and communication.
Further information - falls
Educational and information resources available on preventing and managing falls in older people in hospital.
All public and private hospitals are required to be accredited to the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare’s (ACSQHC) National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards. The primary aims of the standards are to protect the public from harm and to improve the quality of health service provision. Assessment to the second edition of the NSQHS Standards commenced in January 2019. The second edition comprises eight standards that provide a nationally consistent statement about the level of care consumers can expect from health services.
The Comprehensive Care Standard (Standard 5) aims to ensure that patients receive comprehensive health care that meets their individual needs, and considers the impact of their health issues on their life and wellbeing. It also aims to ensure that risks of harm for patients during health care are prevented and managed through targeted strategies. These include integrating patient care processes to identify patient needs and identifying actions related to falls, pressure injuries, nutrition, mental health, cognitive impairment and end-of-life care.
Information is presented in the Older People in Hospital learning topics that complements Standard 5 and other NSQHS Standards including the; Partnering with Consumers Standard (Standard 2), Medication Safety Standard (Standard 4), Communicating for Safety Standard (Standard 6) and Recognising and Responding to Acute Deterioration (Standard 8).
Reviewed 04 October 2015