Background: Falls are a persistent problem in all healthcare settings, with rates in acute care hospitals ranging from 1.3 to 8.9 falls per 1,000 inpatient days, about 30% resulting in serious injury.
Methods: A 30-day prospective pilot study was conducted on two units with pre- and postimplementation evaluation to determine the impact of patient-centered proactive hourly rounding on patient falls as part of a Lean Six Sigma process improvement project. Nurse leaders and a staff champion from Unit 1 were involved in the process from the start of the implementation period, while Unit 2 was introduced to the project for training shortly before the intervention began.
Results: On Unit 1, where staff and leadership were engaged in the project from the outset, the 1-year baseline mean fall rate was 3.9 falls/1,000 patient days. The pilot period fall rate of 1.3 falls/1,000 patient days was significantly lower than the baseline fall rate (P = 0.006). On Unit 2, where there was no run-in period, the 1-year baseline mean fall rate was 2.6 falls/1,000 patient days, which fell, but not significantly, to 2.5 falls/1,000 patient days during the pilot period (P = 0.799).
Discussion: Engaging an interdisciplinary team, including leadership and unit champions, to complete a Lean Six Sigma process improvement project and implement a patient-centered proactive hourly rounding program was associated with a significant reduction in the fall rate in Unit 1. Implementation of the same program in Unit 2 without engaging leadership or front-line staff in program design did not impact its fall rate.
Conclusions: The active involvement of leadership and front-line staff in program design and as unit champions during the project run-in period was critical to significantly reducing inpatient fall rates and call bell use in an adult medical unit.