Fall Prevention in Hospitals

As a patient in the hospital, your condition and the treatments you receive can increase your risk for falls. Our desire is to minimize any fall risk for patients. It is important that you learn how to decrease fall risks during your stay at the hospital. Let your caregiver know if you have a history of falls or any conditions that make you feel weak, unsteady or light-headed. Also, let your caregiver know if you have any problems with your vision, or need to put on your glasses before getting up.

FALLS MAY OCCUR IN THE HOSPITAL BECAUSE:

  • Medications such as tranquilizers, sleeping pills, pain relievers, blood pressure pills, water pills and insulin, among others, all may make you dizzy, dazed and/or confused.

  • Your illness, enemas, laxatives, long periods without food, tests or surgery may leave you weak and unsteady.

  • You may have to use the restroom more than usual while in the hospital.

  • Lying down in bed for long periods of time can cause you to be dizzy and unsteady when you first get up.

  • Your treatment requires medical equipment with electrical cords and tubing, all of which can cause you to get tangled or to trip.

  • The hospital is a new and unfamiliar environment for you. This is worse at night.

Falls can cause serious injuries and often can be prevented if fall precautions are observed. If we think you are at a risk for falls, we may place a fall risk band on your wrist. This band immediately alerts all staff that you are at a risk for falls. That way, they can work with you to take steps to prevent you from experiencing a fall. We may also place a sign in your room notifying your healthcare team that you have a condition or a past history that increases your risk of falls. If you are at high risk of a fall, or have had a fall before, we may put a bed alarm or ringer on your bed to notify your caregiver when you are getting up so that they can come and assist you. Patients with a fall history may also be given hip protectors and/or helmets to prevent fall injuries. Below are the most important steps you can take to prevent a fall.

SAFETY GUIDELINES FOR PREVENTING FALLS

  • Your caregiver will tell you if it is safe for you to get out of bed by yourself or if you should always call for help before getting out of bed. Your caregiver may also offer to assist you in getting safely to the toilet whenever he/she is in your room.

  • Call for help if you feel dizzy or weak before getting out of bed. This is usually worse after sitting or lying for long periods. If you must get up without waiting for help, sit up in bed awhile before standing. Then get up carefully, and slowly begin to walk. If you feel dizzy or unsure of your footing, return to bed and wait for assistance.

  • Generally, you should remain lying or seated, rather than standing, while waiting for help. Be patient; someone will come to assist you as soon as possible.

  • Wear rubber-soled or crepe-soled slippers or shoes whenever you walk in the hospital. Check with your caregiver if you do not have any. A mat may be placed on the floor next to your bed to reduce the chance of slipping on the floor.

  • Do not remove restraints or tamper with side rails that may be in use. Side rails and restraints are reminders to stay in bed and are used to keep you safe.

  • When you need help, use your call light by your bed or in the bathroom. Wait for one of your caregivers to help you.

  • Walk slowly and carefully when out of bed. Do not lean or support yourself on rolling objects such as intravenous poles or bedside tables.

  • Ask your caregiver for help if your telephone, bedside table or call light are not within your easy reach. Falls can occur when reaching from bed, not just while getting up.

  • Ask your caregiver to put the side rails of your bed up to prevent you from accidentally rolling out of bed.

  • If you use a walker, be sure that it is placed right beside your bed before your caregiver leaves your room.

  • If you do not feel you are strong enough to safely make it to the bathroom, ask your caregiver for a bedside commode instead.

  • Let your caregiver know if there is a spill on the floor.

  • If your caregiver determines you can get out of bed by yourself safely, always pay careful attention to the medical equipment, electrical cords and tubes around you. If you cannot get by the equipment, call your caregiver for assistance.

  • Always turn on the light at nighttime before getting out of bed.

  • When getting up from and into bed, avoid being distracted by the TV, telephone, or another person in your room. Falls often occur when a person is distracted when moving from the bed or around their room.