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Posted: October 15th, 2022

The Role of Medical Staff in Preventing Patient Falls

The Role of Medical Staff in Preventing Patient Falls

Patient falls are a common and serious problem in hospitals, affecting patient safety, quality of life, and health care costs. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), about one in 31 hospitalized patients experience a fall, and about 30% of them result in injuries such as fractures, lacerations, or internal bleeding. However, research also shows that close to one-third of falls can be prevented by managing the patient’s underlying fall risk factors and optimizing the hospital’s physical design and environment.

Medical staff play a crucial role in preventing patient falls by identifying high-risk patients, implementing evidence-based interventions, educating patients and families, and monitoring and evaluating the outcomes. This blog post will discuss some of the best practices for medical staff to prevent patient falls in hospitals.

Identifying High-Risk Patients

The first step in preventing patient falls is to identify which patients are at high risk of falling. This can be done by using a validated screening tool, such as the Morse Fall Scale or the Hendrich II Fall Risk Model, to assess the patient’s fall history, mobility, medications, mental status, and other factors that may increase the likelihood of falling . The screening tool should be administered at admission, after any change in condition, and at regular intervals during the hospital stay. The results of the screening should be documented and communicated to all members of the care team.

Implementing Evidence-Based Interventions

The second step in preventing patient falls is to implement evidence-based interventions that address the patient’s specific fall risk factors. These interventions may include:

– Providing assistive devices such as walkers, canes, or grab bars to help the patient move safely.
– Adjusting the bed height, locking the wheels, and using bed alarms or low beds to prevent falls from bed.
– Reviewing and adjusting the patient’s medications to avoid those that may cause drowsiness, dizziness, or orthostatic hypotension.
– Managing the patient’s pain, hydration, nutrition, and elimination needs to prevent discomfort and urgency.
– Orienting the patient to the room and environment, and ensuring adequate lighting and clear pathways.
– Educating the patient and family about the patient’s fall risk factors and prevention strategies.
– Encouraging the patient to call for assistance before getting out of bed or walking.

One of the most effective strategies to prevent falls is conducting safety rounds on high fall-risk patients in addition to regular hourly rounds. During the safety rounds, a staff member should attend to basic needs such as assessing the patient’s pain, bed position, and need to visit the restroom.

Educating Patients and Families

The third step in preventing patient falls is to educate patients and families about the patient’s fall risk factors and prevention strategies. Education should be tailored to the patient’s level of understanding, language, culture, and preferences. Education should also be interactive and engaging, using methods such as demonstrations, videos, pamphlets, or posters. Education should cover topics such as:

– The reasons why the patient is at risk of falling and how falls can affect their health outcomes.
– The specific interventions that are being implemented to prevent falls and how they can help or participate in them.
– The importance of calling for assistance before getting out of bed or walking.
– The signs and symptoms of a fall-related injury and what to do if a fall occurs.

Education should be provided at admission, throughout the hospital stay, and at discharge. Education should also be reinforced by all members of the care team during their interactions with the patient and family.

Monitoring and Evaluating Outcomes

The fourth step in preventing patient falls is to monitor and evaluate the outcomes of the fall prevention program. This can be done by collecting data on:

– The number and rate of falls and fall-related injuries per unit or hospital.
– The compliance with screening tools and interventions.
– The satisfaction and feedback of patients and families with the education program.

The data should be analyzed regularly to identify trends, gaps, strengths, and areas for improvement. The results should be shared with all stakeholders, including staff, managers, administrators, patients, families, and external agencies. The results should also be used to revise or update policies, procedures, protocols, or practices related to fall prevention.


Patient falls are a major risk to patient safety in hospitals. Medical staff can prevent patient falls by identifying high-risk patients, implementing evidence-based interventions,
educating patients and families, and monitoring and evaluating outcomes. By following these best practices,
medical staff can reduce the incidence of falls and fall-related injuries,
improve patient satisfaction and quality of life,
and save health care resources.

Works Cited

: Heng, Hazel, et al. “Hospital falls prevention with patient education: a scoping review.” BMC geriatrics 20.1 (2020): 1-14. https://bmcgeriatr.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12877-020-01515-w

: Shaw, L., Kiegaldie, D., & Farlie, M. K. “Education interventions for health professionals on falls prevention in health care settings: a 10-year scoping review.” BMC geriatrics 20.1 (2020): 1-13. https://bmcgeriatr.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12877-020-01819-x

: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. “Preventing Falls in Hospitals.” https://www.ahrq.gov/patient-safety/settings/hospital/fall-prevention/toolkit/index.html

: Performance Health. “How to Prevent Patient Falls in 10 Steps.” https://www.performancehealthus.com/blog/10-ways-to-prevent-patient-falls

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