By Debbie Childerhose & Sandra Walsh
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In Canada, falls are the leading cause of injury resulting in hospitalizations, partial and total disabilities, and death along with serious economic impact, costing the healthcare system 10.3 billion dollars per year (Parachute, 2021).
Because of such devastating impacts as well as the fact that most falls are predictable and preventable, WCH has implemented a Falls Prevention Strategy that aims to reduce the risk of falls for everyone who comes to the hospital. WCH has also implemented the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario (RNAO) Best Practice Guideline Preventing Falls and Reducing Injury from Falls. The WCH Falls Prevention Council oversees the implementation of the Falls Prevention Strategy and includes clinicians, staff, and WCH Experience Advisors as active members. The council reviews all staff and patient falls in the hospital to identify trends, patterns, and root causes in order to make improvement recommendations. Participating Experience Advisors who are WCH patients, their care partners, or community members, are engaged in the process and play an important role in enhancing patient safety at the hospital.
Preventing falls is EVERYONE’S responsibility. Here’s how you can contribute to the three goals outlined in the WCH Falls Prevention Strategy:
- Keep the WCH environment safe and free of fall risks
- Report potential hazards such as spills, water, debris, and uneven surfaces by calling ext. 3900 (at 76 Grenville) or 4613 (at 77 Grenville).
- Use umbrella covers provided at hospital entrances to prevent drips and puddles. Call ext. 3900 for refills.
- Track falls in your area. Review the number of falls at team huddles or meetings. Reach out to the WCH Falls Prevention Council for assistance in addressing specific concerns.
- Screen high risk populations for falls risks using the recommended screening question “Have you had a fall in the past year?”
- Reduce the incidence and severity of injury from a fall
- Wear footwear appropriate for your environment or activity that complies with the hospital’s Footwear Policy.
- Stay alert when walking or using stairs and be aware of your surroundings. Avoid distractions such as your phone – do not text on stairs.
- Reduce the risk of patient falls in the community and at home
- Address falls prevention upon initial contact and communicate the patient’s falls risk with the care team.
- Provide patients with an increased risk for falls with individualized strategies for falls prevention at home and in the community.
If you witness a fall at the hospital:
- Activate a Code Blue by calling ext. 5555. The Code Blue team is the most qualified to assess someone who has suffered a fall and to determine the right plan of care. For falls occurring at 77 Grenville, call 911.
- Do not move someone that has suffered a fall. Lifting or moving someone inappropriately can cause further injury to the individual and to you. Allow them to move on their own, with minimal assistance. If you do assist someone who has experienced a fall, be mindful of your body mechanics.
- Gather names of bystanders who were in the area at the time of the fall as they may have information about the mechanism of injury or contributing factors. Include this information in in Incident Reporting and Information System (IRIS) report.
- Report all falls in IRIS.
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