Computer-based risk assessment and decision support can help prevent falls in hospitals, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The study's authors developed an application and tested it in a randomized trial at four acute-care hospitals, involving about 10,000 patients and 48,000 patient days. Based on the results, they project that about 90 falls a year (one per 862 patient days) could be prevented in the hospital units where the tool was tested.
The authors are affiliated with Partners HealthCare System, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, all based in Boston. They concluded that the rate of falls on the units using the application dropped to 3.15 per 1,000 patient days, while the rate on the control units remained at 4.18, compared with a mean rate of 3.99 in Massachusetts. The application appeared most helpful in preventing falls among patients 65 and older, according to the article.
"While fall-risk screening is common practice in hospitals, the use of patient-specific screening results to tailor a prevention plan is less frequent," the authors wrote, explaining that their tool "standardized communication of risk status and made the fall prevention plan available at the bedside."