Loyola University Hospital has completed a remarkable streak of consecutive days without a fall on its acute inpatient-rehabilitation unit.
During a recent 64-day period, totaling 1,854 patient days, not a single patient fell down. (A patient day is one patient staying one day in the hospital.) By comparison, rehab units nationwide average about 7.5 falls per 1,000 patient days.
âWe are pleased to have experienced no falls during a period in which we would have been expected to have about 14 falls,â said Elmer Dulce, RN, manager of acute rehabilitation nursing services. âWe are striving to extend our next fall-free streak even longer.â
Patients in Loyola's 32-bed unit undergo rehab from conditions such as brain injuries, strokes, heart attacks, broken bones and extended periods of being bedridden. They are considered moderate-to-high risks for falling down, which can cause cuts, bruises, head injuries, broken hips and other injuries.
Staffers meet every weekday morning to discuss the fall risks of newly admitted patients. Also each morning, nurses and therapists hold a separate âBe Safe Huddleâ to discuss how to prevent falls in each patient.
These are among the unit's other fall-prevention efforts, said Kathy Xenakis, RN, the point person in the unitâs fall-prevention efforts.
-- Staffers check in on every patient at least once every hour, 24 hours a day.
-- After each fall, staffers examine every factor that caused the fall and make necessary adjustments.
-- If a patient should not be getting out of bed unassisted due to a high risk of falling, the bed is equipped with a sensor pad that sounds an alarm if the patient gets up. If a patient is extremely confused and agitated, a staffer will sit at the bedside around the clock if necessary.
-- Patientsâ families are trained on how to prevent falls and asked to not help patients stand up or walk until they have received such training.
-- Patients are given nonskid slippers. Wheelchairs also have anti-tipping devices to prevent users from falling over backwards.
âPreventing falls is a team effort that includes doctors, nurses, therapists, social workers, case workers and chaplains,â Dulce said.