Falls are a widespread concern in hospitals settings, with whole hospital rates of between 3 and 5 falls per 1000 bed-days representing around a million inpatient falls occurring in the United States each year. Between 1% and 3% of falls in hospitals result in fracture, but even minor injuries can cause distress and delay rehabilitation. Risk factors most consistently found in the inpatient population include a history of falling, muscle weakness, agitation and confusion, urinary incontinence or frequency, sedative medication, and postural hypotension. Based on systematic reviews, recent research, and clinical and ethical considerations, the most appropriate approach to fall prevention in the hospital environment includes multifactorial interventions with multiprofessional input. There is also some evidence that delirium avoidance programs, reducing sedative and hypnotic medication, in-depth patient education, and sustained exercise programs may reduce falls as single interventions. There is no convincing evidence that hip protectors, movement alarms, or low-low beds reduce falls or injury in the hospital setting. International approaches to developing and maintaining a fall prevention program suggest that commitment of management and a range of clinical and support staff is crucial to success.
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