Rural Hospitals (Flex Program)

Document Type

Policy Brief

Publication Date



falls, CAHs, evidence-based, quality improvement, patient safety, hospitals, rural, MRHRC, USM Aging Initiative, Health and Wellness, Policy


This Policy Brief is part of a series of policy briefs identifying and assessing evidence-based patient safety and quality improvement interventions appropriate for use by state Flex Programs and CAHs.Because falls are among the significant adverse events experienced in hospitals, falls prevention is a critical component of any patient safety strategy. Partnership for Patients, a public-private partnership funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, includes as one of its nine areas of focus Injuries from Falls and Immobility which are a significant cause of hospital-acquired injury. Partnership for Patients estimates that 25% of fall injuries are preventable and the goal set for hospitals is to cut the number of preventable fall injuries in half while maintaining or increasing patients' mobility by 2013. This Policy Brief by the Flex Monitoring Team aligns with the goals of Partnership for Patients and describes strategies applicable to Critical Access Hospitals and State Flex Programs. Key Findings: Hospital falls are a serious patient safety problem, accounting for nearly 84% of all inpatient incidents. Most falls commonly occur as a result of medication related issues, toileting needs, and hospital environmental conditions. Effective falls interventions target both intrinsic (e.g. physiologic) and extrinsic (e.g. environmental) risk factors. Effective falls prevention teams are interdisciplinary and ideally include pharmacists, nurses, physical therapists, medical, and quality officers and are imbedded in a culture of patient safety. Education for and communication across all staff contributes to successful falls prevention programs. Reporting falls data to one of the national organizations allows for benchmarking



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