Effectiveness of an Ambient Intelligent Geriatric Management system (AmbIGeM) to prevent falls in older people in hospitals: protocol for the AmbIGeM stepped wedge pragmatic trial

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Abstract

Background

Although current best practice recommendations contribute to falls prevention in hospital, falls and injury rates remain high. There is a need to explore new interventions to reduce falls rates, especially in geriatric and general medical wards where older patients and those with cognitive impairment are managed.

Design and methods

A three-cluster stepped wedge pragmatic trial, with an embedded qualitative process, of the Ambient Intelligent Geriatric Management (AmbIGeM) system (wearable sensor device to alert staff of patients undertaking at-risk activities), for preventing falls in older patients compared with standard care. The trial will occur on three acute/subacute wards in two hospitals in Adelaide and Perth, Australia.

Participants

Patients aged >65 years admitted to study wards. A waiver (Perth) and opt-out of consent (Adelaide) was obtained for this study. Patients requiring palliative care will be excluded.

Outcomes

The primary outcome is falls rate; secondary outcome measures are: (1) proportion of participants falling; (2) rate of injurious inpatient falls/1000 participant bed-days; (3) acceptability and safety of the interventions from patients and clinical staff perspectives; and (4) hospital costs, mortality and use of residential care to 3 months postdischarge.

Discussion

This study investigates a novel technological approach to preventing falls in hospitalised older people. We hypothesise that the AmbIGeM intervention will reduce falls and injury rates, with an economic benefit attributable to the intervention. If successful, the AmbIGeM system will be a useful addition to falls prevention in hospital wards with high proportions of older people and people with cognitive impairment.

Trial registration number

Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trial Registry: ACTRN 12617000981325; Pre-results.

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