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Systems-Based Safety Intervention: Reducing Falls with Injury and Total Falls on an Orthopaedic Ward
Grant R. Lohse, MD1; Seth S. Leopold, MD1; Susan Theiler, RN1; Cindy Sayre, RN1; Amy Cizik, MPH1; Michael J. Lee, MD1
1 Department of Orthopaedics, University of Washington, 1959 N.E. Pacific Street, Room BB-1053, Seattle, WA 98195. E-mail address for G.R. Lohse: lohse@uw.edu
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Disclosure: None of the authors received payments or services, either directly or indirectly (i.e., via his or her institution), from a third party in support of any aspect of this work. One or more of the authors, or his or her institution, has had a financial relationship, in the thirty-six months prior to submission of this work, with an entity in the biomedical arena that could be perceived to influence or have the potential to influence what is written in this work. Also, one or more of the authors has had another relationship, or has engaged in another activity, that could be perceived to influence or have the potential to influence what is written in this work. The complete Disclosures of Potential Conflicts of Interest submitted by authors are always provided with the online version of the article.

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Department of Orthopaedics, University of Washington, 1959 N.E. Pacific Street, Room BB-1053, Seattle, WA 98195. E-mail address for G.R. Lohse: lohse@uw.edu
Investigation performed at the University of Washington Medical Center, Seattle, Washington

Copyright © 2012 by The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc.
J Bone Joint Surg Am, 2012 Jul 03;94(13):1217-1222. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.J.01647
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Abstract

Background: 

In-hospital falls can result in substantial morbidity and mortality and were declared “never events” by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in 2008. Interventions that were intended to reduce the incidence of falls based on patient risk factors have not been successful in the acute inpatient setting. We hypothesized that a systems-based fall-prevention program targeting high-risk situations would result in fewer falls with injury.

Methods: 

Falls that occurred in the prospective postintervention period were reviewed in real time with use of a clinical database that could be accessed by all physicians, nurses, aides, and therapists. Analysis of the hospital setting, patient factors, and circumstances associated with all falls occurring on the hospital’s orthopaedic ward were evaluated during the preintervention study period. On the basis of the findings from this audit, four systems-based interventions were implemented. Prospective analysis of these interventions was then conducted. All falls were tracked by means of the clinical database and reviewed by the study investigators. The rates of falls with injury and total falls in the preintervention and postintervention periods were compared.

Results: 

The preintervention study period (May 1, 2007, to September 28, 2008) represented 11,082 patient days, during which time the fall with injury rate and total fall rate were 1.17 and 4.24, respectively, per 1000 patient days. The postintervention study period (September 29, 2008, to May 1, 2010) represented 12,267 patient days, during which time the fall with injury rate and the total fall rate were 0.41 and 2.53, respectively, per 1000 patient days. The reductions in the rates of falls with injury (p = 0.036) and total falls (p = 0.024) were significant.

Conclusion: 

Utilization of a continuous quality improvement model to develop a systems-based fall-prevention program can be effective in reducing falls with injury and total falls in an acute inpatient setting. Despite a thoughtful, multidisciplinary, intensive approach to the problem, falls did occur. We believe that it is unrealistic to consider all falls to be preventable.

Level of Evidence: 

Therapeutic Level III. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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    References

    Accreditation Statement
    These activities have been planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint sponsorship of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
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