Mississippi Hospital Reduces Patient Falls by 25 Percent Using AHRQ Program
Anderson Regional Medical Center, a 260-bed hospital in Meridian, Mississippi, reduced patient falls by 25 percent after implementing AHRQ’s Preventing Falls in Hospitals Training Program in 2015. The reduction in patient falls resulted in an estimated $238,000 savings in medical costs.
“AHRQ’s program has definitely been the most effective falls-reduction program ever undertaken here and also the most comprehensive,” said Connie Lee, R.N., Anderson Regional’s director of quality.
“It has been highly beneficial because the program’s guidelines have forced us look at all of the different avenues of care influencing patient safety, including electronic health records (EHRs), to prevent patient harm.”
Chris Myers, R.N., B.S.N., the hospital’s risk manager and patient safety officer, explained that use of the AHRQ program allowed the hospital to implement “a truly hard-wired” falls-education program. Myers said AHRQ’s program emphasizes the importance of accurately assessing the risk of falls for patients and including that information in the EHR. “There had been some confusion as to whether identifying patients as ‘low fall risk’ was actually the most accurate risk level for most patients,” he explained.
The majority of falls occurred as patients left their beds to walk to or from the bathrooms, Myers said. Key measures taken to prevent falls now include bedside commodes, welcome signs in each room from the nurse reminding patients to “call, don’t fall,” and additional safety awareness training for nurses and patient care technicians.
Lee emphasized that training was mandatory for both nurses and patient care technicians, “which played a huge role in helping them understand how to effectively handle patients.”
Another falls-reduction tactic now used by Anderson Regional is having an individually written contract with patients that indicates when the nurse will come to take them to the bathroom during the night, when falls are most likely.
“We now develop a partnership with each patient so there will be a pre-established expectation that at a specified time during the night, the nurse will come in to assist patients with their toileting needs,” Lee said. “This new process has been working extremely well.”
Anderson Regional was one of 10 hospitals that received AHRQ funding to implement AHRQ’s falls-reduction program to evaluate its effectiveness. The hospital piloted the program in the general surgery and pediatric units and then implemented it throughout the hospital.