Reducing Falls in Outpatients: Evaluation of Fall Risk Assessment and Identification of Fallers

Thursday, 25 July 2013: 3:15 PM

Katherine Diane Pendleton-Romig, DNP, MSN, BSN, ADN, RN
Division of Nursing, Tennessee State University, Nashville, TN

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to identify fall risk factors associated with outpatient populations.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able to gain an understanding that evaluation alone for fall risk of individuals does not promote mitigation of falls.

Purpose: The purpose of the project aimed to study occurrences of injurious falls in outpatient areas in a health care facility with a focus on how falls can be mitigated.  Prevention of falls is a national patient safey goal.    Research shows that falls are more likely amongh older adults; however, falls may be preventable if fall risk screening and education could be started before patients become older adults.  Risk factors and support factors are viewed as higher priorities for fall prevention than physiological measures.       

Methods: The project was conducted in the internal medicine outpatient clinic in a Tennessee medical center, focusing on nursing staff.  A questionnaire was distributed to nursing staff working in the internal medicine clinic over a 4-6 week period during the spring of 2012 for the purpose of evaluating the utilization of the screening tool used for patients age 65 and above for determining if the tool is beneficial in identifying patients who are at risk for falls. 

Results: Eight nursing staff responded to a 10 question questionnaire  to help determine if the screening tool is beneficial in identifying patients who are at risk for falls.  Analysis of the survey revealed that two of the eight nursing staff were licensed nurses and the non-licensed nursing staff were responsible for conducting the patient fall screenings.  It is not known if the nursing staff currently utilizing the screening tool use it correctly or consistently.   

Conclusion: The screening tool needs to be utilized by RNs.  The educational background of RNs incorporates assessment at a higher level than that of non-licensed staff which may lead to the need for further patient screening.  An educational pamphlet containing information related to falls prevention for patient distributon as well as posting similar information on signs in the outpatient clinics may aid in mitigating patient falls in these areas.