Preventing falls in the operating room: a technique tip for safely tilting the operating table

Foot Ankle Spec. 2013 Oct;6(5):372-5. doi: 10.1177/1938640013496844. Epub 2013 Jul 17.


Background: Many articles have been published to address the topic of in-hospital falls; however, there is considerably less literature that focuses specifically on the topic of falls from the operating room table. The lay press and legal filings contain reports of such incidents, which can result in considerable morbidity, lawsuits, and occasional death.

Technique: When tilting the operating table, a simple technique for preventing falls is through the use of posts. Posts are regularly used during knee and hip arthroscopy to facilitate valgus positioning or access into the joint. These posts can be positioned below the axilla and at the level of the greater trochanter to supplement patient safety straps when tilting the table.

Discussion: Falls that occur during a hospital admission can lead to serious injury and prolonged hospital stays. Furthermore, falls that occur off the operating table are particularly disastrous and in some cases have resulted in death. Our proposed technique is simple and particularly useful for patients with large or small body habitus or when operating procedures necessitate significant tilting of the operating table.

Levels of evidence: Level V.

Keywords: falls; hospital practice; new technology assessment; practice management.

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / prevention & control*
  • Accidents, Occupational / prevention & control
  • Equipment Design
  • Humans
  • Operating Room Nursing / standards
  • Operating Tables*