Clinical Decision Making in the Prediction of Falls

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ABSTRACT.Objective:Examine rehabilitation professionals' capacity to identify risk factors for patient falls.Design:Survey study.Setting:Three academic medical center rehabilitation departments.Participants:Fifty-six rehabilitation specialists representing disciplines typically involved in patient care, including physiatry and occupational, physical, recreation, and speech therapy.Measures:A 2-part, self-report questionnaire with spontaneous and cued rank-order listing of factors related to fall risk.Results:Clinicians did not consider advanced age and history of falling when spontaneously delineating risks for falls. The importance of fall history, but not of advanced age, was recognized through cueing.Conclusions:Clinicians appear aware of strong predictors of fall risk but require cueing to consistently use them. Cueing increased hypothetical predictive accuracy, although clinicians still downplayed some of the most salient predictive factors. Staff education regarding validated fall risk factors and potential errors in clinical decision making can improve patient care.

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