by Maureen Shawn Kennedy, AJN editor-in-chief
Patient falls are, unfortunately, a frequent occurrence in hospitals and the consequences can vary from none to serious life-threatening injuries. There has been a lot of attention focused on identifying those at high risk for falls and effective prevention measures, but according to our September CE feature, there’s been little attention focused on falls that cause injuries. In this original research study, Predicting Injurious Falls in the Hospital Setting: Implications for Practice, Amy Hester and colleagues at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences conducted a retrospective review of medical records to see if they could pinpoint which patient factors were associated with falls with injuries. Their results may surprise you.
Here’s the abstract:
Background: Despite years of research and increasingly evidence-based practice, falls continue to be the most commonly reported adverse events experienced by hospitalized adults. Yet a majority of the relevant research has focused on predicting and preventing falls in general; there has been little focus on injurious falls.
Purpose: The purpose of this retrospective study was to determine which patient factors are associated with injurious falls in hospitalized adults.
Methods: The study site’s adverse event reporting database was used to identify 1,369 patients who fell between January 1, 2006, and October 31, 2013. Of these, 381 (27.8%) subjects suffered injurious falls. Variables of interest included age, sex, fall history, use of diuretics, use of central nervous system medications, cognitive impairment, primary discharge diagnoses, abnormal laboratory values, impaired mobility, and body mass index.
Findings: Bivariate analysis revealed a statistically significant association between injurious falls and having a primary discharge diagnosis of “symptoms, signs, and ill-defined conditions.” Having this discharge diagnosis was a significant predictor of injurious falls.
Conclusions: Findings from this study may help hospital clinicians to better identify which patients are most at risk for injurious falls and to create better fall-related injury prevention interventions.