Beverly Hospital in Massachusetts has significantly reduced the rate of patient falls on its units by implementing a comprehensive fall prevention program, WCVB Boston reports.
According to a recent state report, 70 percent of serious injuries in Massachusetts hospitals were caused by falls, with older adults proving particularly vulnerable. As a result, preventing falls has become a top priority at several Massachusetts facilities. Beverly Hospital, for example, implemented the Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders (NICHE) program, a national geriatric training program launched in 1992 by the Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing at New York University College of Nursing. As part of the program, the hospital first identifies patients at risk and uses this information to minimize the risk of patient falls by lowering the height of the bed; clearing pathways to bathrooms and other amenities to ensure that there are no obstacles; and ensuring that items, such as call buttons and phones, are within arm's reach.
According to the NICHE Web site, hospitals that implement NICHE report enhanced nursing knowledge and skills regarding the treatment of common geriatric illnesses; reduced length of stay, readmissions rates and costs associated with treating the elderly; increases in the length of time between patient readmissions; and enhanced patient satisfaction (WCVB Boston, 12/14/09; NICHE Web site).
The National Quality Forum (NQF) defines a fall as an unplanned descent to the floor (or extension of the floor e.g., trash can or other equipment) with or without injury to the patient.