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A fall in the hospital is a natural worry, especially following surgery. Nationwide, for every thousand days patients spend in the hospital, there are more than three falls. Our fall rate is less than that, which is particularly notable when you consider that many of our patients undergo orthopedic procedures, which puts them at increased risk for falls. Our goal is to entirely eliminate falls, and to do that, we are in the process of implementing a unique "falling star" program. You can help us achieve our goal by learning about your own fall risk and doctor's orders about your mobility. Most falls happen when patients try to walk too soon after surgery. We appreciate your cooperation with the "falling star" program.

What we do to prevent falls

Each patient's risk of falling is assessed daily and whenever there is a change in condition.

Once implemented, this program will help us identify patients who are at risk of falling, we will post green stars outside the door and provide green wrist bands. These green items provide cues to the staff and family members that the patient may need help walking and getting in and out of bed.  Currently, we use bed tabs for patients determined to be a fall risk. These devices set off an alarm if the patient attempts to get out of bed. Additionally, our beds have patient alarms programmed into them. When activated, these alarms sound when the patient gets out of bed. We provide all patients with non-skid footwear. We keep the bed side rails up. We select patient rooms close to the nurses station for those patients identified to be a high fall risk which increases their supervision. We use gait belts to assist patients to stand and assist with walking. We provide mobility devices, such as walkers or canes to promote stability when walking. And, we use greater than one staff member to mobilize these patients, should that be needed.

An individualized safety plan is developed for each patient, which may include posting the patient's fall risk on the communication board in each patient room.

The patient, family members and visitors are educated about techniques to minimize the likelihood of falling.

What you can do to prevent falls

Upon admission, inform a member of your health care team of any difficulty you may have with walking and getting in and out of a bed or chair.

After surgery, do not try to get up without help unless you have been cleared by a doctor, nurse or physical therapist. Most falls occur when patients try to walk too early without help.

Even if you have been cleared to walk without assistance, inform anyone from your health care team if you begin to feel dizzy or unsteady.

Wear your eyeglasses and/or hearing aid, if you have one.

Always wear non-skid socks or shoes when out of bed.

Report spills or other hazards to your health care team.

Always use a walking device (cane, walker, crutches) if your physical therapist instructs you to use one.