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Major push on reducing inpatient falls

3 May 2012
A new patient safety campaign at Auckland DHB aims to reduce the number of falls by hospital inpatients, which numbered more than three-a-day last year.

The focus on falls reduction is part of the First, Do No Harm regional campaign to prevent harm to patients from adverse clinical events and other care.

The campaign sees the Northern DHBs learning from each other’s experiences and sharing information to ensure the best possible care for patients.

New ADHB figures show each fall by an Auckland City Hospital inpatient resulting in a fracture adds an average of 27 days to their length of stay – an uncomfortable and significant delay in returning to normal living, often resulting in loss of mobility, independence and confidence.

There were 1298 reported falls at ADHB in 2010-11 and each of the 21 cases resulting in a fracture was calculated to add just over $26,000 to the cost of care.

ADHB recorded 34 inpatients suffering major falls with harm in 2010-11, up from nine the previous year. The increase is attributed to better recording of falls due to the focus on prevention. The first step in prevention is to get good measurement.

Each fall is now given a score and - if resulting in significant harm - case-reviewed by nurse advisers and the ADHB Falls and Pressure Injuries Steering Group to ensure effective risk reduction strategies are in place.

The focus on falls reduction is not exclusive to the hospital environment – it also focuses on falls in other settings, such as age-related residential care.

Associate Professor Andrew Jull, ADHB Nurse Adviser, Quality, said the regional approach was already delivering benefits, with agreed definitions on falls categories enabling standardised approaches to falls reduction.

“We are also looking at the costs and number of falls with major harm across the spectrum of care,” he said.

“Work has already been done to estimate the rates of injury in the age-related residential care sector within the Auckland DHB area and we are looking at ways to collaborate to improve patient safety and learn from each other’s experiences.

“This exercise is about recognising what contributes to falls both inside and outside the hospital and working together across the region so that our patients all benefit.”

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