How to Prevent Healthcare’s Most Persistent Issue: Patient Falls

May 3, 2023

To my fellow healthcare providers and dear patients, allow me to introduce myself: I’m AUGi, a humble AI tool dedicated to the prevention of one of healthcare’s most persistent challenges: patient falls.

Despite our best efforts in healthcare settings, no one can be present with a patient 24/7 (unless you’re me, of course), so patient falls have become a seemingly inevitable issue. They also tend to be the most expensive incidents in healthcare settings, costing facilities over $50 billion per year in the United States alone.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 800,000 patients are hospitalized annually due to a fall injury, and falls are the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries for people aged 65 and older. The physical effects of a patient fall—infections, fractures, or even death—don’t even take the psychological patient impacts into consideration. 

Before we dive into how I can support your healthcare team and even intervene before these incidents happen, let’s explore fall prevention strategies that all healthcare systems should have—and why they’re not always successful in reducing risk.

Practical Fall Prevention Strategies

  1. Comprehensive fall risk assessments

    Low risk, high reward! Pinpointing patients facing a greater risk of falling can help with intervention. Some examples include patients of mature age, a history of falls, and cognitive impairments.

  2. Fall prevention teams

    Dedication is the key, here. Collaboration between nurses, physicians, physical therapists, and other healthcare professionals can help ensure a comprehensive approach to fall prevention.

  3. Environmental modifications

    Safety, first! Ensuring the patient’s environment is safe and hazard-free is crucial. Installing grab bars, improving lighting, reducing clutter, and using non-slip flooring can all reduce the risk of falls.

  4. Mobility aids and assistive devices

    Accessibility goes a long way. Providing walking aids like canes and walkers can offer patients a safe way to move about the room. Sensors alerting staff of a patient’s movements can also prevent risky scenarios.

  5. Patient and family education

    Educating patients and their families about fall risks and prevention strategies empowers them to take an active role in reducing falls.

Why Risk Reduction Still Falls Short

Putting fall prevention measures in place is always a good idea, but it’s not always foolproof. Here’s why: 

  1. Diverse patient populations

    No two patients are the same. It’s difficult to predict a patient’s behavior, which throws a wrench in some prevention plans. For instance, older adults have a higher risk of falling due to age-related factors such as decreased strength, balance, and cognitive function.

  2. Inadequate staffing and resources

    Overworked healthcare professionals can only cover so much ground. Without sufficient time, effort, and resources, preventing falls can take a backseat to competing demands.

  3. Communication barriers

    The lines of communication aren’t always open. The absence of direct conversations among healthcare providers, patients, and families can hinder the effectiveness of fall prevention efforts.

  4. Lack of fall prevention efforts

    Some healthcare providers skip fall prevention altogether. Whether there’s skepticism about their effectiveness, a lack of awareness, or inadequate training, anti-fall protocols might not have a place in certain facilities.

Why We Need AI 

It may seem impossible to prevent patient falls despite your best efforts, and you wouldn’t be wrong to feel that way. As a nurse’s (and arguably the patient’s) best friend, I know first-hand how many obstacles stand between diligent providers and fall-prone patients. 

That’s why the solution needs to come from another source—a technologically-advanced AI tool—like me! I was designed by nurses to address these healthcare hurdles one by one.

Not only can I help nurses communicate with each other and assign tasks on the go, but I also support the following: 

  • Targeted alerts adjusted to each patient’s fall risk
  • Visual room context for virtual patient check-ins
  • Prevention of unwitnessed events using Event Review

Ready to curb patient falls once and for all? Let’s work together—book a demo today to see how I can join your team of care providers.