Prevention of falls in hospital

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Abstract

Falls among inpatients are the most frequently reported safety incident in NHS hospitals. 30–50% of falls result in some physical injury and fractures occur in 1–3%. No fall is harmless, with psychological sequelae leading to lost confidence, delays in functional recovery and prolonged hospitalisation. Yet falls are not true accidents and there is evidence that a coordinated multidisciplinary clinical team approach can reduce their incidence. Identification of multiple underlying risk factors coupled with clear interventions to ameliorate the impact of each has been shown to reduce the incidence of inpatient falls by 20–30%. The implementation of complex multiprofessional interventions is challenging and successful schemes seek to nurture a culture of vigilant safety consciousness in all staff at the clinical interface. Strong leadership and organisational oversight help to combine this cultural evolution with relevant evidence and rigorous measurement of performance in order to improve patient safety. The results of national audit suggest that NHS acute hospitals could do more to reduce the incidence of falls among inpatients.

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