Background: Fall prevention programs for hospitalized patients have had limited success, and the effect of programs on decreasing total falls and fall-related injuries is still inconclusive. This exploratory multi-hospital study examined the unique contribution of call light response time to predicting total fall rates and injurious fall rates in inpatient acute care settings. The conceptual model was based on Donabedian's framework of structure, process, and health-care outcomes. The covariates included the hospital, unit type, total nursing hours per patient-day (HPPDs), percentage of the total nursing HPPDs supplied by registered nurses, percentage of patients aged 65 years or older, average case mix index, percentage of patients with altered mental status, percentage of patients with hearing problems, and call light use rate per patient-day.
Methods: We analyzed data from 28 units from 4 Michigan hospitals, using archived data and chart reviews from January 2004 to May 2009. The patient care unit-month, defined as data aggregated by month for each patient care unit, was the unit of analysis (N = 1063). Hierarchical multiple regression analyses were used.
Results: Faster call light response time was associated with lower total fall and injurious fall rates. Units with a higher call light use rate had lower total fall and injurious fall rates. A higher percentage of productive nursing hours provided by registered nurses was associated with lower total fall and injurious fall rates. A higher percentage of patients with altered mental status was associated with a higher total fall rate but not a higher injurious fall rate. Units with a higher percentage of patients aged 65 years or older had lower injurious fall rates.
Conclusions: Faster call light response time appeared to contribute to lower total fall and injurious fall rates, after controlling for the covariates. For practical relevance, hospital and nursing executives should consider strategizing fall and injurious fall prevention efforts by aiming for a decrease in staff response time to call lights. Monitoring call light response time on a regular basis is recommended and could be incorporated into evidence-based practice guidelines for fall prevention.