Objective: To determine whether the rate of falls and associated serious injuries in a hospital aged care setting can be reduced using a multistrategy prevention approach.
Design, setting and participants: Three-year quality improvement project comparing data at baseline (2001) and at 2-year follow-up (2003) after interventions to reduce falls. All patients admitted to the Aged Care Services wards at Caulfield General Medical Centre, Melbourne, between January 2001 and December 2003 were included.
Interventions: Multistrategy approach phased in over 3 months from September 2001 and involving data gathering, risk screening with appropriate interventions, work practice changes, environmental and equipment changes, and staff education.
Main outcome measures: Total number of falls; number of falls resulting in serious injuries (fractures, head injuries, death); staff compliance with the risk assessment.
Results: Over a 2-year period, there was a 19% reduction in the number of falls per 1000 occupied bed-days (OBDs) (12.5 v 10.1; P = 0.001) and a 77% reduction in the number of falls resulting in serious injuries per 1000 OBDs (0.73 v 0.17; P < 0.001). Staff compliance with completing the falls risk assessment tool increased from 42% to 70%, and 60% of staff indicated they had changed their work practices to prevent falls.
Conclusion: A multistrategy falls prevention program in an aged care hospital setting produced a significant reduction in the number of falls and a marked reduction in serious fall-related injuries. Incorporating a falls prevention program into all levels of an organisation, as part of daily care, is crucial to the success and sustainability of falls prevention.