Many times with a falls initiative, some staff are convinced that some falls aren't preventable, or that some patients simply will not heed advice to ask for assistance before getting out of bed, and that there's nothing that's going to change that. This sentiment makes showing staff evidence of positive progress so important. "The chart helped staff take more initiative in preventing falls," says Hariel.
Teaming up with patients
Improved communication with patients and families-really urging them to call for help and explaining to them that they are in a new environment with new risks-was also critical, says Hariel, who adds that it is a team effort between the patient and staff to prevent falls.
Hariel speculates this communication also helped Lallie Kemp improve its Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems scores, as patients felt that staff truly cared for them and were appreciative of the time they took to talk with them about falls. Staff warned patients that falling could result in an injury that is slow to heal, appealing to their desire to be discharged sooner than later. Importantly, staff made it abundantly clear that they were glad to help, which Hariel says made patients feel more comfortable asking for assistance. Many patients needed to be told specifically that they were not causing a burden.
With staff accountability and education, and better patient communication, a hospital can greatly decrease falls, says Hariel. "You have to make it a priority," he says. "You have to listen to employees and get their feedback."
The keys to keeping falls low are educating staff upon hire and annually, as well as thorough review and education with each fall, says Hariel, who warns that if you don't train new staff immediately, you're putting patients at risk.
This article appeared in the October 2012 issue of Health Governance Report.