Updated: Nov 22, 2019

One in every four adults aged 65+ will experience a fall each year, making it the leading cause of head injuries and broken hips in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that more than 2.8 million fall-related injuries are treated in emergency departments annually, including over 800,000 hospitalizations and more than 27,000 deaths.

Here are some excellent resources from the National Council on Aging

Remember, not all falls occur at home. Did you know that just being a patient in the hospital can dramatically increase your risk for falls and fall-related injuries, regardless of your diagnosis? In the hospital environment, any patient of any age or physical ability can be at risk for a fall due to a medical condition, medications, surgery, procedures, or diagnostic testing that can leave them weakened or confused. Likewise, fall-related injuries can lead to a prolonged hospital stay, additional tests or procedures, and can increase the cost of your hospitalization by an average of $14,000.

Here are some important tips that you can use to prevent a fall while in the hospital.

  1. Always use the call light when you need help. You will likely see “Call, Don’t Fall” signs in your hospital room and bathroom. These are designed to encourage patients to always call the nursing staff before getting out of bed.

  2. Make sure that your call light button, telephone, and personal items are within reach. If you can not reach something, make sure to call for help.

  3. Take Your Time. Certain medicines can leave you to feel dizzy or sleepy. Sit at the edge of the bed or chair for a few seconds and then get up slowly to prevent dizziness.

  4. If you are instructed to use an assistive device such as a walker, cane, crutches, or a brace, please use them every time you get out of bed or chair.

  5. Wear your eyeglasses and/or hearing aid(s) when you are awake.

  6. Wear nonslip footwear or slippers when you are out of bed. Remember, most things in the hospital are on wheels, so do not lean on the bedside table, furniture, IV pole or other items to steady yourself.

  7. If you have any IVs, drains, or tubes, use your call light every time you need to get up. This is important to prevent tugging on the equipment or tripping over it.

Finally, everyone needs to have an advocate looking out for them. Ask family members or friends to be in the hospital room with you as much as possible. The hospital environment is confusing and can easily cause any patient, regardless of age, to become disoriented. Having someone by your side that you trust, will help keep you safe.

For more information or questions, contact Carolina Patient Advocates today.

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