No falls the goal for Waikato DHB for a month from now

18 Apr 2013 | Reducing Harm from Falls

Preventing falls in hospital is the business for everyone involved in health.

That is the message of this year’s April Falls promotion, which got underway this week at Waikato District Health Board (DHB).

Chief operating officer Jan Adams says falls are an ongoing and serious cause of patient harm.

"We take patient safety very seriously and are doing all we can to prevent harm from falls," she says.

"Nobody wants a patient to have a fall while receiving health care."

Waikato DHB will mark April Falls month by not only including details of rolling out the Health Quality & Safety Commission's "April falls month" campaign across the DHB but also celebrating its fall prevention achievements.

Achievements to date:

  • Patient injury rate continues to decrease
  • Fall rate within the DHB continues to reduce
  • Increase in reporting of patient falls
  • The number of falls resulting in a severity score of 1 has decreased
  • More than 1700 staff have now completed the Upright online falls education
  • A comprehensive toolkit of fall prevention strategies on the intranet

"But we still have some way to go, how can we improve even more?" said Mrs Adams.

The DHB "April falls" campaign has been launched through the Board of Clinical Governance, senior nurses meeting, nursing round table and the senior nurse/Allied Health meetings and features on the intranet message of the day page.

Staff have been asked to involve patients, families and carers, using their creativity to show case the fall prevention activities in their ward/area and service - inpatient, out patient and the community

Additional resources from the Commission, "Falls hurt" Balloons, pens, stickers and two sets of posters, will provide an opportunity to focus even more on fall prevention improvements as we go forward.

Ideas in action include: Fall prevention focus boards, update education (Self directed learning package/Upright online), streaming of the Thames 'Humpty Dumpty' video; placing the A4 posters and balloons with the 'releasing time to care' boards and smaller posters in high risk fall areas: toilets/bathrooms; stickers and pens are being used to focus fall prevention conversations/admission and discharge with patients and /families, quizzes and competitions.

Mrs Adams says falls can cause suffering and sometimes death, as well as distress for their families/whanau or caregivers of the person who has fallen. A fall-related injury often means a longer hospital stay and extra medical tests and treatment. It is one of the main reasons patients for earlier admissions to an aged residential care facility.

Between 2010 and 2012, 200 people nationally fell while in hospital care and broke their hip.

"Many falls are preventable and it’s up to us all to make sure we work as a team to prevent harm from falls. Our staff are working hard to make sure every patient is assessed for their risk of a fall, care plans are developed with patients and family to help keep them safe on their feet, and we make sure the environment is safe."

Older people are most at risk of falling.

Mrs Adams encourages people to discuss any concerns with their doctor or nurse, and to ask for help if they feel unsteady on their feet.

"Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need a hand," she says. 

"It’s also important to make sure you know where the call-bell is by your bed and that you have everything that is important within reach, such as your glasses or walker. Staff will help keep the area around your bed clutter-free and make sure any spills are attended to so you don’t slip over."

A national patient safety campaign this month coordinated by the Commission will focus initially on reducing harm from falls. Other areas of focus during the campaign will be healthcare associated infections, medications and perioperative harm.

Last updated 06/05/2013