September 23 is Falls Prevention Awareness Day, which was created to raise awareness about how to prevent fall-related injuries among older adults. As we age, preventing falls is crucial to staying healthy, as falls are the leading cause of injury to seniors in the United States.
Falls can happen anywhere, but one place many people feel like they are not at risk for a fall is while in the hospital. When in the hospital, patients are in unfamiliar surroundings, taking different medications that can effect their thinking and memory, and their balance and mobility are not the same as they were prior to surgery. NEBH has implemented a unique “falling star” program to help reduce patients’ risk of falling. There are also many things patients can do themselves to help prevent falls while in the hospital.
What NEBH Does To Prevent Falls
- Each patient’s mobility is assessed before their procedure. Then, once in the hospital, risk of falling is assessed twice a day and whenever necessary.
- An individualized safety plan is developed for each patient.
- If a patient is identified as high risk for a fall, yellow stars are posted outside the patient room door to communicate to all staff to take special precautions to ensure safety. We also provide yellow wrist bands and yellow non-skid socks. These yellow visual cues alert the staff and family members that the patient may need help walking and getting in and out of bed.
- The patient, family members and visitors are educated about techniques to minimize the likelihood of falling.
- The Nursing staff conducts safety rounds on regular intervals to assist the patients.
What Patients Can Do to Prevent Falls
- Upon admission, inform a member of your health care team of any difficulty you may have with walking and getting in and out of a bed or chair.
- After surgery, do not try to get up without help. Most falls occur when patients try to walk too early without help.
- Inform anyone from your health care team if you begin to feel dizzy or unsteady.
- Wear your eyeglasses and/or hearing aids, if you have them.
- Always wear non-skid socks or shoes when out of bed.
- Report spills or other hazards to your health care team.
- Always use a walking device (cane, walker, crutches) if your physical therapist instructs you to use one.
- If you fall without a staff member, please report the fall immediately so the nurse can assess you to ensure no injury occurred.
If you have fallen recently or have felt unsteady, talk to your doctor about personalized strategies to help keep your balance.