Thousands of people have a fall each year and many of these falls cause considerable harm and distress. Most falls happen in the community but a significant number also occur in rest-homes and hospitals.
We know that between 2009 and 2010 there were 47,000 falls-related discharges from public hospitals, at a cost of $205 million, with more than half of these made up of people aged over 65. Most falls happen in the community but a significant number also occur in rest-homes and hospitals.
A fall can really knock a person’s confidence, as well as causing injury which requires additional medical tests and treatment.
The good news is that there are things we can do to minimise the harm from falls and to help prevent them occurring in the first place, such as knowing what an individual’s risks of falling are, making it easy for patients and residents to ask for help moving about if they need it and making sure that the environment is well-lit and uncluttered.
The Health Quality & Safety Commission supported district health boards and other providers in their falls prevention programmes in a month-long promotion called April Falls in 2013.
The Commission is also leading and coordinating a national patient safety campaign. The campaign, Open for better care, was launched in May 2013, focusing initially on reducing harm from falls. Other areas of focus during the campaign were healthcare associated infections, medications and perioperative harm.
At the end of the day we have to be able to put our hands on our hearts and say "we have truly done our best to keep the patient safe from falling."
Sandy Blake, Director of Nursing, Whanganui DHB, and clinical lead for the Reducing Harm from Falls programme.