The SCOPE of Hospital Falls: A Systematic Mixed Studies Review

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Abstract

Purpose:

This systematic mixed studies review on hospital falls is aimed to facilitate proactive decision-making for patient safety during the healthcare facility design.

Background:

Falls were identified by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services as a nonreimbursed hospital-acquired condition (HAC) due to volume and cost, and additional financial penalties were introduced with the 2014 U.S. HAC reduction program. In 2015, the Joint Commission alert identified patient falls as one of the top reported sentinel events, and the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) added slips, trips, and falls as a focus for investigators’ healthcare inspections. Variations in fall rates at both the hospital and the unit level are indicative of an ongoing challenge. The built environment can act as a barrier or enhancement to achieving the desired results in safety complexity that includes the organization, people, and environment.

Methods:

The systematic literature review used Medical Subject Heading terms and key word alternates for hospital falls with searches in MEDLINE, Web of Science, and CINAHL. The search was limited to English-language papers.

Results:

Following full-text review, 27 papers were included and critically appraised using an evaluation matrix that included a mixed methods appraisal tool. Themes were coded by broad categories of factors for organization (policy/operations), people (caregivers/staff, patients), and the environment (healthcare facility design). Subcategories were developed to define the physical environment and consider the potential interventions in the context of relative stability.

Conclusions:

Conditions of hospital falls were identified and evaluated through the literature review. A theoretical model was developed to propose a human factors framework while considering the permanence of solutions.

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