Action needed to reduce hospital falls: “one size fits all” won’t work

NICE is calling on the NHS to reduce the number of older patients who are falling over in hospitals.

Doctors and nurses should identify the individual risks of these patients to help reduce serious injury and death. Falls cost the NHS an estimated £2.3 billion a year.

Nearly 209,000 falls were reported in hospitals in England between 1 October 2011 and 30 September 2012. While the majority (97%) of these people experienced no or low harm (such as minor cuts and bruises), 90 patients died because of their falls. Around 900 patients experienced severe harm, such as hip fractures and head injuries.

Professor Mark Baker, director of the Centre for Clinical Practice at NICE said: “While it would be virtually impossible to prevent all hospital falls from happening, our guideline calls for doctors and nurses to address the issues that will reduce the risk of their patients suffering avoidable harm. No two patients are the same and so a “one size fits all” approach will not work.”

NICE advises hospital nurses and doctors to consider all patients aged 65 years and older, as well as all patients aged 50 and above who have dementia, stroke, vision or hearing problems and other underlying conditions, to be at a high risk of falling over while in their care.

There are several reasons why these people are more likely to experience a fall and so they should be assessed for their personal risk, such as whether they have fallen previously, the medicines they are taking, and whether they have poor eyesight, problems with balance or with walking.

Read more here.

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