Journey to a Safe Environment: Fall Prevention in an Emergency Department at a Level I Trauma Center

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Predicting which patients will fall is a challenging task, especially in the often unpredictable setting of an emergency department of a Level I Trauma Center. Unfortunately, there is a great potential for falls to occur in this environment. Fall risk assessment tools used in inpatient settings do not adequately capture the risk factors of patients presenting to the emergency department. The ability to accurately identify patients at risk for falling at the point of entry is the first step toward preventing patient harm. Once patients are identified as at risk for a fall, the next challenge is to be sure that they do not fall. We created the KINDER1 Fall Risk Assessment Tool for use in the emergency department. This instrument was specifically designed for the rapid identification of patients at risk for a fall as well as the re-evaluation of patients for fall risk throughout their stay in the emergency department. Once we had an appropriate assessment tool, our next challenge was for staff to consistently apply fall prevention interventions. Performing a mini–root cause analysis on each fall showed trends and in turn led to the design and implementation of specific fall prevention interventions to motivate the nursing staff to focus on fall prevention that the ED nursing leadership used to select change strategies. With improved identification of fall risk patients and consistent application of innovative prevention strategies, we were able to show a trend toward reduction of falls and fall-related injuries in our emergency department.

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