Falls occur everywhere, including in hospital, and can cause injury and functional decline. They are the result of the interaction between personal and environmental factors and are often associated with fear, depression, anxiety and loss of confidence in older people.

Many falls can be prevented; so we all need to be aware of our patients’ falls risks and respond appropriately.

This topic gives an overview of falls in hospital, assessing and responding to falls risk, and preventing and managing falls in hospital. In addition to following health service policy and procedures, consider the following actions and discuss them with colleagues and managers.

All Australian hospitals are being accredited under The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare’s (ACSQHC) National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards. Each of the ten standards relate to optimising clinical care and better outcomes for all patients. Identifying and responding to issue of falls (standard 10) is directly referred to within the NSQHSS. This topic highlights the need to approach the clinical issues older people face in hospital in a holistic and person-centred way in order to identify and respond to multiple modifiable risk factors throughout their stay. In addition to assisting us to meet standard 10, this topic relates to improving medication safety (standard 4) and to improving our identification and response to people presenting with or developing a cognitive impairment (Cognition Clinical Care standard).

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