In the spring of 2009, Bartlett Regional Hospital formed a "falls team" to address the issue of patient falls while being treated at the hospital. Nurses and physical rehabilitation therapists joined the project with the mission of evaluating and revising the then-current program, with the objective of reducing the incidence of patient falls.
Bartlett's rate for patient falls had dropped from 6.5 per 1,000 patient bed days in 2007 to 6.1 in 2009. Data for 2010 is not yet available, though the goal is to further reduce the number of patient falls.
The team adopted broad strategies that included the adoption of the Morse Scale too, helps determine a patient's risk of falling. Each patient is reassessed every shift.
The team developed larger, visual signage to alert all staff and visitors of that patient's fall risk. Bartlett employee Lincoln Farabee designed the magnet that is placed on the outside of the patient's room. The hospital also purchased chair alarms for patients in wheelchairs.
Patients also were issued new slippers with better tread, and shower slippers with better grip.
Since the hospital is always trying to improve patient care, the team developed a post-falls protocol to assess if anything can be done differently to prevent further falls. All safety equipment used on patients is reviewed to prevent falls during transfer from bed to chair, bed to stretcher, etc.
Bartlett Regional Hospital historically uses front line teams to continuously improve patient care by involving those who work closest with patients in the development and improvement of policies and procedures that affect patient care and safety.
Jim Strader is director of community relations for Bartlett Regional Hospital.