Patient falls are the highest reported safety event in the province and occur in almost all types of healthcare settings. A comprehensive falls prevention program is widely recognized as the best way to educate healthcare staff, identify patients at risk and implement safety measures to prevent patients from falling.
At Royal Inland Hospital (RIH), one of two Interior Health (IH) tertiary referral hospitals, falls prevention is at the forefront of quality of patient care. Their falls prevention program began two years ago and is increasing staff awareness about falls prevention and strategies to improve patient safety at RIH. RIH is working in alignment with Kelly Wilson, IH’s Regional Quality Consultant for Falls and Injury Prevention, to ensure a collaborative organizational approach.
“As a hospital, we’re very committed to falls prevention,” says Cindy O’Brien, Quality Improvement Consultant, IH West. “We see all types of patients at RIH and any one of them is at risk for falling. It’s our job to be aware of that and do our best to prevent falls from happening.”
The (draft) regional Universal Falls Precaution audit tool was used to assess compliancy with falls prevention criteria. Cindy says the audit tool focuses specifically on care processes related to falls prevention, such as bed height, clear pathways to washrooms, access to mobility devices and the patient’s environment. With the help of a fourth year nursing student, baseline audits were completed. These audit results have been an excellent way to educate RIH staff and encourage open, timely conversations about falls prevention, and work with staff to make improvements using quality improvement methodology such as Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) cycles.
“Since we began using the audit tool, I find that we talk about falls prevention all the time now,” says Cindy. “Simple things like the importance of non-slip socks and hip protectors for patients at risk of falling. We also have a new falls prevention poster on display in patient rooms as a reminder to patients and their families that falls prevention and personal safety is important to us.”
Cindy says last October’s Canadian Patient Safety Week was another excellent opportunity for her team to undertake a falls prevention campaign for RIH staff. “Our messages were simple and fun and RIH staff seemed to really enjoy that teaching approach,” she says.
When asked about the benefits of PSLS, Cindy says the system provides an excellent snapshot of when and how patients fall. “It’s helpful to know the details about patient falls because that way we can identify if we need to adjust our staff scheduling, such as adding more nurses during a particular shift.”
Great work RIH!
For more information about falls prevention in other areas of BC, please read:
- Vancouver General Hospital’s proactive approach to falls prevention
- Seniors safety: Bradley Centre’s mission to prevent harm due to falls
Cindy O’Brien and Alison Gregory are Quality Improvement Consultants for IH West. To learn more about their falls prevention initiatives, please contact them by email at Cindy.B’Brien@interiorhealth.ca or Alison.Gregory@interiorhealth.ca