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Posted: September 15th, 2023

Factors contributing to psychiatric patient falls in hospitals

Factors contributing to psychiatric patient falls in hospitals
Factors Contributing to Psychiatric Patient Falls in Hospitals

Psychiatric patients who are hospitalized in inpatient units are at a higher risk of falling than patients in other hospital settings. Falls can have serious consequences for the patients, such as injuries, increased length of stay, and reduced quality of life. Therefore, it is important to identify the factors that contribute to psychiatric patient falls and implement effective prevention strategies.

According to a systematic review of literature by Carpels et al. (2022), there are several intrinsic and extrinsic factors that can increase the risk of falling among psychiatric inpatients. Intrinsic factors are those that relate to the patient’s physical and mental condition, such as age, medical comorbidity, history of falls, acute mental state, psychotic symptoms, bipolar disorder, cognitive impairment, and psychotropic medication use. Extrinsic factors are those that relate to the environment and the care process, such as poor lighting, slippery floors, clutter, lack of walking devices, improper footwear, inadequate staffing levels, and lack of evidence-based policies on falls.

Some of these factors are unique to psychiatric patients, such as the presence of psychotic symptoms or bipolar disorder that can lead to cognitive distortions and risk-taking behaviors. Psychotropic medications can also induce side effects such as sedation, orthostatic hypotension, and impaired balance that can increase the likelihood of falling. Moreover, psychiatric patients may have less awareness of their own fall risk or may resist interventions that aim to reduce it.

Therefore, there is a need for targeted fall prevention programs that address the specific needs and challenges of psychiatric inpatients. Such programs should involve multidisciplinary team members who can assess the patient’s fall risk, implement individualized interventions, monitor the patient’s progress, and evaluate the outcomes. Additionally, environmental modifications and staff education should be part of the prevention strategies. Furthermore, prospective research and standardized data collection are needed to better understand the causes and consequences of psychiatric patient falls and to develop evidence-based guidelines for their prevention.

Works Cited

Abraham S (2016) Factors Contributing to Psychiatric Patient Falls. J Community Med Health Educ 6: 410. doi: 10.4172/2161-0711.1000410

Carpels A., de Smet L., Desplenter S., de Hert M. (2022) Falls Among Psychiatric Inpatients: A Systematic Review of Literature. Alpha Psychiatry 23 (5): 217–222. doi: 10.5152/alphapsychiatry.2022.21735

Managing Patient Falls in Psychiatric Inpatient Units: Part 1 (n.d.) Retrieved from https://www.healthdesign.org/knowledge-repository/managing-patient-falls-psychiatric-inpatient-units-part-1

Managing Patient Falls in Psychiatric Inpatient Units (2016) Health Care Manager 35 (2): 140-148. doi: 10.1097/HCM.0000000000000104

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