Falls in the hospital can have serious consequences for our patients. They can cause harmful physical injuries—such as fractures—and cause distress for patients who are already experiencing illness. Injuries resulting from falls can also lengthen a patient’s stay at the hospital.
At the MGH, one patient fall is considered too many, and we have carefully examined our care processes and physical environment to reduce our rate of patient falls. Nurses assess each patient at the time of admission , identify their risk for falling, and initiate fall prevention measures. We are making improvements in our physical environment to prevent falls, including the installation of ceiling lifts and more grab bars in bathrooms to help ensure the safe transfer of patients. Finally, we are exploring ways to prevent injury if a patient does fall, such as padded floor mats surrounding the hospital bed.
The MGH has maintained a low rate of falls with injury by using the approaches listed above. We have been monitoring our falls rates for years, and we have been active participants of the PatientCareLink initiative sponsored by Massachusetts Hospital Association. Our fall-with- injury rates in the critical care unit, the medical/surgical unit and the medical unit are similar (difference is not statistically significant), as compared to the state average for hospitals with over 500 beds (www.patientcarelink.org). Our rates in the surgical units are slightly lower than (better than) the state average for hospitals with over 500 beds. We expect to reduce this even more as we keep continue to develop fall prevention strategies.