Fall Prevention In the Hospital
Accidental falls sometimes occur in the hospital. The hospital staff has the following suggestions to help you avoid a fall during your visit.
Falls can be caused by:
- Medications that leave you dizzy and disoriented
- Tests that leave you weak and unsteady
- The unfamiliarity of the hospital, especially at night.
The following guidelines can help reduce your risk of falling:
- Always use your call light and ask for help
- Ask the nurse for help if you feel dizzy, weak or light-headed when you need to get up
- Wear non-skid slippers or shoes whenever you walk in the hospital
- Remain lying or sitting while waiting for someone to answer your light
- Use the call light in the bathroom if you become weak and need help back to bed
- Notify the nursing staff if a spill occurs on the floor.
Do not attempt to clean it yourself
- Ask to have objects such as bedside tables, phone, glasses and call light in easy-to-reach places if you’re not able to get up
- Always follow your doctor’s and nurses’ instructions regarding your activity
- Do not tamper with side rails or restraints. They are reminders to stay in bed and are designated to ensure your safety and protection.
Visitors can help reduce fall risk by:
- Putting side rails up when leaving
- Alerting the staff if your loved one appears unusually tired, weak or dizzy
- Asking the staff member to help your loved one to get back in bed, to the bathroom or in a chair
- Alert nursing staff when you leave the patient.
Fall Prevention at Home
Many people are injured in their own home each year. A safer home can help give you peace of mind after you return from your hospital stay.
The following tips can help you avoid accidents at home:
- Wear your glasses if you need them but don’t walk around with reading glasses on.
- Use a walking stick, cane, walker or railing if you feel unsteady on your feet.
- Wear well-fitting shoes with low heels, or slippers with non-slip soles.
- Avoid long shoelaces which may come untied and trip you.
- Make sure your stairs are brightly lit. White paint on either side of a flight of stairs can help.
- Use a bedside lamp or night light in your bedroom/bathroom so you can see when getting out of bed during the night.
- Keep walkways clear of objects such as shoes, toys, bikes, electrical cords, etc.
- Don’t use throw rugs.
- Store frequently used clothes and other items in places where you can reach them without standing on a stool or chair. If you must climb, use a stable stepladder or sturdy chair or ask for help.
Home Assessment List for Fall Hazards
Use this list to identify and correct hazards in your home that may lead to falls or injuries.
A “no” answer indicates a need for changes to your home environment.
- Are step surfaces non-slip?
- Are step edges visually marked to avoid tripping?
- Are steps in good repair?
- Are stairway handrails present and securely fastened to fittings?
- Are walkways covered with a non-slip surface and free of objects that could cause trips?
- Is there sufficient outdoor lighting to provide safe ambulation at night?
- Are lights bright enough to compensate for limited vision?
- Are light switches accessible to you before entering rooms?
- Are lights glare-free?
- Are stairways adequately lit?
- Are handrails present on both sides of staircases?
- Are handrails securely fastened to walls?
- Are step edges outlined with colored adhesive tape and slip-resistant material?
- Are throw rugs secured with non-slip backing?
- Are carpet edges taped or tacked down?
- Are rooms uncluttered to permit unobstructed mobility?
- Are chairs throughout the home strong enough to provide support during transfers? If you have difficulty moving from sitting to standing, are armrests present on chairs to provide assistance while transferring?
- Are tables (dining room, kitchen, etc.) secure enough to provide support if leaned on?
- Are low-lying objects (coffee tables, step stools, etc.) positioned so they do not present a tripping hazard?
- Are regularly used items in storage areas easily reached without having to stand on tiptoes or a chair?
- Do you prevent slippery floors by using a non-skid wax (or no wax), or well-secured carpet?
- Is there a non-slip mat in the sink area to soak up spilled water?
- Are chairs wheel-free, equipped with armrests and of the proper height to allow for safe transfers?
- Are step stools strong enough to provide support?
- Are stool treads in good repair and slip resistant?
- Are doors wide enough to provide unobstructed entering with or without a device?
- Are door thresholds low enough to prevent tripping hazards?
- Is the floor safe (not slippery, no loose rugs, no loose tiles)?
- Are skid-proof strips or mats in place in the tub or shower?
- Are tub and toilet grabbing bars available? Are grab bars securely fastened to the walls?
- Can you get off the toilet easily? If not, the seat may need to be raised or you may wish to install handrails.
- Is there sufficient, accessible and glare-free light available?
- Is there adequate and accessible lighting available?
- Are night lights and/or bedside lamps available for nighttime bathroom trips?
- Is the pathway from the bed to the bathroom clear to provide unobstructed mobility (especially at night)?
- Are beds at the appropriate height to allow for safe on-and-off transfers?
- Are floors covered with a non-slip surface and free of objects that could cause trips?
- Can you reach objects from closet shelves without standing on tiptoes or a chair?
Patients with Dementing Illness or Temporary Confusion
If you are caring for a family member or loved one who has a dementing illness or temporary confusion, use the following list to help make sure they are safe from falls:
- Patients should wear an ID bracelet in case they wander.
- Supervise the use of electrical appliances.
- Unplug electrical appliances when not in use.
- Supervise the use of sharp knives and scissors.
- Lock medications.
- Lock cleaning products.
- Lock cellar doors and place bolts high on the doors.
- Lock matches and lighters, and supervise smoking.
- Have a fire extinguisher available.
- Install smoke alarms, as well as carbon monoxide detectors.
Your comfort is our concern. Your caregivers will assess your pain level systematically and thoroughly throughout your stay. We will involve you in all decisions regarding all aspects of your pain care. When you are feeling pain, we will ask you to express your pain. Your expression will be accepted and respected as the most reliable indicator of pain. We will ask you to use a pain scale to describe your pain. If your pain level is not at an acceptable level of comfort to you, interventions will be initiated to promptly manage your pain.
There are several pain scales that can be used to assess your level of comfort. The 0-10 numeric pain intensity scale allows you to rate your pain from 0 (no pain) to 10 (worst pain). The Wong-Baker Faces Scale is used to help children or adults who are not able to use the numerical scale. Face 0 is happy because it doesn’t hurt at all. Face 10 is very sad because its pain is as bad as it can be. If you are unable to communicate your pain, staff will use the FLACC (Face, Legs, Activity, Cry, Consolability) assessment tool, which is a behavioral measurement of pain to assess your comfort level and manage your pain.
Know Your Medications
Knowing your medications is very important in making sure you receive the best care possible. You should know:
- Drug name - THIS IS A MUST - If it’s a generic equivalent, ask your pharmacist to include on the label the brand name that it replaces (for example, “Generic Lasix”). Know what your medication looks like. If it looks different than before, always ask the pharmacist to verify its identity.
- Why you are taking it. Sometimes a single medication can have many acceptable uses. Make sure you know why your physician has prescribed it for you.
- How long you need to take it and what you should do if you miss a dose.
- How many refills you need. Remember to get a new prescription from your physician before refills run out.
- How you should take it. Most medications can be taken with a full glass (8 oz) of water and/or food unless otherwise directed. For more information about food-drug interaction, please ask.
- Common side effects. Ask if any side effects will lessen with time as your body adjusts to the medication and what you should do if these do not lesson with time or are very bothersome.
- Signs or symptoms that might signal a serious adverse reaction or allergy. Contact your physician or pharmacist and find out what to do if you experience an allergic reaction.
- How to store the medication properly and the maximum length of time. Check the expiration date. NEVER store medication in a bathroom medicine cabinet, as the heat and moisture will cause the medication to expire sooner.
Communicating with Your Doctor
Always give complete information to your physician and pharmacist about the medications you are taking (including non-prescription products for pain, cough and cold, allergy, vitamins, diet pills, etc.). Inform them about any medications you have had a problem with in the past. Carry an emergency information card in your wallet. Ask for a copy of the emergency information card, fill it in and carry it in your wallet. Bring a complete list of your current medications with you any time you are admitted to the hospital or visit your doctor so they can be reviewed. Your care provider will provide you with your most current list at the completion of your visit. If you don’t receive this, please ask for a copy.
Communicating with Your Pharmacist
It’s wise to use only one pharmacy. Take advantage of your pharmacist’s specialized knowledge regarding the proper use of medication and accept his/her offer to discuss your medications. Don’t ever hesitate to ask questions! Computerized handouts, physician references, various consumer-oriented medication information books can contain very generalized information. Ask your pharmacist to review with you any material he or she gives you – not all of it will pertain specifically to you.
Your case manager or social worker can help you set up your follow-up doctor appointments prior to discharge. It is in your best interest to keep these appointments after you leave the hospital. To speak with your case manager or social worker, please call 315-801-8135 for the St. Elizabeth Campus or 315-624-4426 for the St. Luke’s Campus.
If you do not have a primary care provider, you may access a list of the MVHS Medical Group providers who are accepting new patients by visiting www.mvhealthsystem.org/provider-listing.
Quality and Safety Concerns
MVHS welcomes your suggestions for improving the quality and safety of the care provided, and of our buildings. If you have concerns or recommendations about quality of care or safety, please contact the Quality Management Department at 315-624-6004.
If you have a question or concern about your care and treatment, do not hesitate to discuss your concerns with your physicians, providers or nurses. If you do not feel you are being heard, please contact the unit charge nurse or nurse manager for assistance. Each shift is also staffed with a hospital supervisor who may be contacted through any staff member or through the hospital switchboard operator. He or she will be able to provide further information and referral.
If you still feel that you would like further follow-up, you may contact the Quality Management department at 315-624-6004, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The hospital supervisor can contact the administrator on call during off hours, holidays and weekends if your concerns require immediate intervention.
If you remain dissatisfied with any aspect of your care and treatment, you may contact the accrediting body, Det Norske Veritas (DNV Healthcare) at 1-866-523-6842 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also contact the New York State Department of Health at:
New York State Department of Health
Centralized Hospital Intake Program, Empire State Plaza
Albany, New York 12237
We recognize that from time to time conflicts will arise among those who participate in patient care decisions. Whether this conflict involves members of administration, medical staff, nurses, other employees, the board of directors, other patient caregivers, families or the patient, we seek to resolve all conflicts fairly and objectively and attempt mutual satisfaction. In issues of patient care it is strongly recommended that appropriate members of the healthcare team discuss and attempt to resolve all issues. If necessary, a medical staff Ethics Committee meeting will be convened to consider the matter. If you would like to have the Ethics Committee consider an issue of concern regarding your care and treatment, you (or your family members) should contact the hospital supervisor who will arrange for a referral to the Ethics Committee.