One of the leading causes of death in the United States is medical mistakes and mishaps, like patients having hospital falling accidents. By the year 2013, one would think many of these types of mishaps would be eliminated, especially in safe, secure hospitals, right? Wrong!
An article just recently reported a devastating falling accident involving a female patient. She needed to use the restroom but couldn’t get a nurse to respond. She attempted to make it on her own, fell, and dislodged her neck plate that had just been surgically implanted. Not to mention she suffered other injuries as well. What if that was your mother, would you be upset? Why are patients so susceptible to falling in hospitals, sometimes to their death?
Studies point to various factors that contribute to hospital falling accidents:
- Side effects of drugs and combinations of drugs or are unknown by nurses.
- Patients are over-medicated and side effects cause instability.
- Environmental safety measures, such as lighting, assistive devices, furniture, clinical alarm systems, housekeeping, properly fitted shoes and clothing, personal assistance when needed to enable safe transfers and patient movement, partial side rails, keeping patient rooms and hallways free of clutter, and keeping objects within reach of the patient.
- Insufficient Procedures, such as physical distance nurses travel on a hospital unit to care for patients, documentation time, and fragmented communication between caregivers
- Issues related to toileting – Over 50% of falls happen when patients attempt to go to the restroom. Many claim they felt the nurses seemed too busy and didn’t want to ask for help.
- Overcrowding in Emergency Rooms, where most patients enter the hospital. are well known for hospital falling accidents.
Most Falls are Predictable and Preventable
The most frustrating thing about these accidents is that they are all preventable. The problem is that it is usually after the fact when hospitals begin working on preventing them. Hospitals are required to follow certain guidelines to prevent these occurrences, but they are falling short. Hospitals are often understaffed, have too many patients for caregivers to handle, and this is resulting in neglect, injury, and even death.
Most falls are predictable and preventable when risk factors are used to guide fall prevention strategies—only a very small percent of hospital falls cannot be predicted (seizures, drop attacks, cardiac arrhythmias, stroke).Ann Hendrich, MS, RN, FAAN
Too often, fall prevention strategies begin after a hospital falling accident occurrence, not before. This is a key reason why some fall programs fail to consistently reduce the overall fall index/injury rate over time.
There are risk management companies designing environmentally safer rooms, and using alarms, pressure monitors, and various other devices in an attempt to eliminate the problem. So far, though, they don’t seem to be helping.
If a person is injured due to the negligence of hospital staff or safety precautions, the hospital can be liable for those injuries. Hospital negligence leading to patient fall and injury is sometimes a form of medical malpractice for which injured patients and their families can seek compensation. It is best to consult an attorney to determine if there is a strong case, and what the best options are for building that case, or filing a civil lawsuit. If hospital falling accidents are truly preventable, hospitals must eliminate the deaths and injuries…There’s just no excuse.