According to the Agency for Health Research and Quality, 700,000 to 1 million people fall in U.S. hospitals each year. Of those falls, 30 to 35 percent result in injury and 11,000 are fatal. Those statistics are the motivation behind a new report by the Joint Commission and Hospitals in Pursuit of Excellence (HPOE), an American Hospital Association initiative.

The report, “Preventing Patient Falls: A Systematic Approach from the Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare Project,” describes the types of risks that lead to patient falls, their root causes and strategies to reduce them. It also provides several case study successes that peer hospitals can learn from.

St. Joseph Hospital, Tampa, Fla., has implemented measures to decrease fall incidents across its three-facility campus. From 2009 to 2013, the campus averaged 28 incidents per year. In 2014 and 2015, after a few safety changes, that number dropped to less than four.

The Veterans Health Administration (VA) has also seen success in reducing fall-related injuries. According to the report, “Improving Fall Prevention Practices in the Veterans Health Administration,” the VA redesigned its fall-prevention strategy, resulting in a fall-related injury rate decrease from 6.8 to 4.8 per 100,000 bed-days of care.

The HPOE and Joint Commission report states that “the contributing factors to falls are both varied and complex.” The report stresses not only the need for best practices but that those practices are implemented consistently. Doing so could result not only in a safer patient environment, but significant cost savings as well. The average increase in hospital days as a result from fall-related injuries is about six days.

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