Above, Beyond, and Over the Side rails: Evaluating the New Memorial Emergency Department Fall–Risk-Assessment Tool

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Introduction:Patient falls are a significant issue in hospitalized patients and financially costly to hospitals. The Joint Commission requires that patients be assessed for fall risk and interventions in place to mitigate the risk of falls. It is imperative to have a patient population/setting specific fall risk assessment tool to identify patients at risk for falling. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the reliability and validity of the 2013 Memorial ED Fall Risk Assessment tool (MEDFRAT) specifically designed for the ED population.Method:A two-phase prospective design was used for this study. Phase one determined the interrater reliability of the MEDFRAT. Phase two assessed the validity of the MEDFRAT in an emergency department (ED) within a 600-bed academic/teaching institution; Level II Trauma Center with >100,000 annual patient visits.Results:The Memorial ED Fall Risk Assessment Tool was validated in this ED setting. The tool demonstrated positive interrater reliability (k=0.701) and when implemented with a falls prevention strategy and staff education demonstrated a 48% decrease in ED fall rate (0.57 falls/1000 patient visits) post implementation during the study period.Discussion:The MEDFRAT, an evidenced based ED-specific fall risk tool was implemented on the basis of the risk factors consistently identified in the literature: prior fall history, impaired mobility, altered mental status, altered elimination, and the use of sedative medication. The Memorial ED Fall Risk Assessment Tool demonstrated to be a valid tool for this hospital system.

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