TELL CITY, INDIANA – Unintentional falls are a threat to your life, independence and health, especially if you are 65 and older. Every 18 seconds, an older adult is treated in an emergency department for a fall and every 35 minutes someone in this population dies as a result of their injuries. Falls are the leading cause of injury deaths among adults age 65 and older and according to the CDC, one in three older adults fall each year. Older adults are hospitalized for fall-related injuries five times more often than they are for injuries from other causes. Falls are NOT a normal part of aging.
Falls in older adults are a result of both personal and environmental factors. Personal factors include gait and balance, muscle weakness, limitations of daily living activities, visual problems, lack of physical activities, and the effects of prescription drugs. Individuals are encouraged to become active in an exercise program that improves strength, balance and coordination. Staying active and eating a healthy diet keeps your muscles toned and lessens the possibility of a fall. Environmental factors include potential hazards in the home such as loose rugs, the absence of railings on stairs or grab bars in the bathroom, household pets and poor lighting.
Fall Prevention programs should offset problematic re-admissions and or lower the number of avoidable Emergency Department visits, therefore impacting the healthcare reimbursement dollar. During National Fall Prevention Awareness Week, state fall prevention coalitions, health care providers, and senior service agencies across the country will hold presentations, health fairs, screenings, and workshops to raise awareness among older adults and their families and caregivers, elder care professionals, and the general public about the seriousness of falls and ways to reduce fall risk.
According to the Nov. 2010 Clinics in Geriatric Medicine 30% to 51% of falls in the hospital result with some injury, 80% to 90% are un-witnessed and 50% to 70% occur from transferring from one place to another.
Perry County Memorial Hospital has a Fall Prevention Program and an active interdisciplinary team that continuously works to ensure patient safety. In order to help promote a safe environment in the hospital setting and reduce the potential for injuries to patients, visitors and staff, the Community Patient Safety Coalition of Southwestern Indiana/Kentucky, Inc. (CPSC) established a group to address in-hospital fall prevention. CPSC is a not-for-profit organization consisting of representatives from tri-state area hospitals and healthcare providers collaborating and sharing resources to enhance patient safety issues with regard to not only fall prevention, but also surgery, laboratory services, medication, infection prevention, and transitioning to home.
Tri-State area member hospitals represented are: Deaconess, St. Mary’s, St. Mary’s Warrick, HealthSouth, Methodist, Gibson General Hospital, Good Samaritan, Memorial Hospital and Healthcare Center, Women’s Hospital, The Heart Hospital, Daviess, Perry County Memorial Hospital, Evansville Surgery Center, Surgicare and Owensboro Health. CPSC meets on a regular basis to discuss best practices in identifying high risk patients, perform assessments, and develop interventions to keep patients safe and prevent falls. While the CPSC hospitals are working to keep you safe, here are some things you as a patient can do to prevent a fall while in the hospital.