VGH Falls Prevention Team

Some of the VGH Falls Prevention Team: Left to right are Doris Bohl, CNE, Subacute Medicine; Laila Aparicio, PSM, Neurosciences; Suk Ko, PSM, Subacute Medicine; Megan Fekete, CNE, Neurosciences; Kylie Perrins, PSM, Acute Medicine; Joan Chocholik, Project Manager; Tanya Dunne, Regional Falls Lead (Members unavailable for the team photo are listed at end of article)

Patients are at risk for falling. Especially patients who are elderly, have cognitive impairment due to head trauma or take multiple medications.

Falls can lead to multiple and serious negative outcomes such as long-term pain, extended stay in hospital or, in the worst cases, death.

To reduce the occurrence of patient falls and improve safety, the Falls Prevention Team at Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) has developed a new toolkit and program that will spread across all Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) sites over the coming months.

“This new program has certainly increased awareness about how to prevent our patients from falling,” says Doris Bohl, Clinical Nurse Educator (CNE). “Nurses are taking that extra step to think about ‘why’ the patient fell, and that’s really making a difference in the quality of personalized care we can provide to VGH patients.”

Planning for the new Falls Prevention Program began in early 2013, following VGH’s accreditation survey in November 2012.  At the time, several VGH units were identified as having excellent falls prevention measures in place, but there were inconsistencies, particularly in the various ways falls risk assessments were performed upon patient admission.

“We knew that different forms and processes were in use across the hospital,” says Joan Chocholik, Project Manager. “So we began by meeting with the various units across Vancouver Acute to discuss how we could streamline their work and provide a better experience for our patients.”

By August 2013, the new Falls Prevention Toolkit was rolled out, beginning with units where falls were the most frequently reported patient safety event in SLS (Vancouver Coastal’s version of PSLS).

The toolkit includes:

  • standard falls risk assessment forms
  • evidence-based standards of practice
  • individual care planning guidelines

“It’s still early days,” says Joan, “but the new standards have been very well received by front-line staff. We’re now well positioned to achieve our goal of reducing the occurrence of falls, here at VGH and ultimately all VCH facilities.”

Their primary goal, she says, is to reduce falls with harm by 20%.

“VGH staff reviews SLS data on a monthly basis to identify where, when and how patients are falling. That way we can see what strategies are working and where we can do better. SLS gives us a complete picture of falls prevention ‘in action’ and allows us to measure our improvement over time.”

When asked how things have changed since the new standards were put in place, Margaret Little, CNE, says,

“We talk about safety and standards of practice much more now. This program has been excellent for our unit because our patient population is quite challenging – from hip fractures to serious head injuries – so it has really improved our critical thinking about falls and given us the tools we need to more accurately assess the likelihood of patients falling.”

With numerous staff education sessions offered, the majority of VGH staff is now trained on how to apply the new falls prevention standards and report falls into SLS. And, as a way to promote conversations about safety, each unit’s falls prevention progress is displayed under their “Safety & Quality” banner for all staff to see.

Congratulations! To the VGH Falls Prevention Team and all staff involved with falls prevention at VGH. You are making a difference to enhance patient care and safety.

Thank you!

We would also like to acknowledge members of the VGH Falls Prevention Team who are missing from the team photo above: Nureya Khimani, CNE, Acute Medicine; Margaret Little, CNE, Orthopaedic Surgery; Marilyn Shamatutu, CNE, Acute Care for Elders; Teresa Green, practice educator, OT; Phil Sweeney, practice educator, Physiotherapy; Tena Ganovicheff, PSM, Acute Care for Elders; Lilibeth Ocampo, PSM, Orthopaedic Surgery; Jennifer Keefe, project support, Vancouver Acute.

Stay tuned for more stories from The VGH Falls Prevention Team as their initiative continues to spread across all Vancouver Coastal facilities.

The new VGH Falls Prevention Toolkit aligns with Vancouver Coastal’s Falls and Injury Prevention Guideline and True North goal to provide best care. Plans to spread the Falls Prevention Program across all Vancouver Health sites are underway.

For more information about falls prevention at VGH, please contact

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