Inpatient fall prevention programs as a patient safety strategy: a systematic review

Ann Intern Med. 2013 Mar 5;158(5 Pt 2):390-6. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-158-5-201303051-00005.


Falls are common among inpatients. Several reviews, including 4 meta-analyses involving 19 studies, show that multicomponent programs to prevent falls among inpatients reduce relative risk for falls by as much as 30%. The purpose of this updated review is to reassess the benefits and harms of fall prevention programs in acute care settings and to identify factors associated with successful implementation of these programs. We searched for new evidence using PubMed from 2005 to September 2012. Two new, large, randomized, controlled trials supported the conclusions of the existing meta-analyses. An optimal bundle of components was not identified. Harms were not systematically examined, but potential harms included increased use of restraints and sedating drugs and decreased efforts to mobilize patients. Eleven studies showed that the following themes were associated with successful implementation: leadership support, engagement of front-line staff in program design, guidance of the prevention program by a multidisciplinary committee, pilot-testing interventions, use of information technology systems to provide data about falls, staff education and training, and changes in nihilistic attitudes about fall prevention. Future research would advance knowledge by identifying optimal bundles of component interventions for particular patients and by determining whether effectiveness relies more on the mix of the components or use of certain implementation strategies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / prevention & control*
  • Accidental Falls / statistics & numerical data
  • Hospital Administration
  • Hospitals / standards*
  • Humans
  • Inpatients
  • Leadership
  • Organizational Culture
  • Patient Safety / standards*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Risk Assessment
  • Safety Management / methods
  • Safety Management / organization & administration*
  • Safety Management / standards