By: Tiffany Orsello, Health Unit Coordinator, Certified Nursing Assistant
A few months ago, TCHC’s nursing staff was awarded the Good Catch for Patient Safety Award by the Minnesota Hospital Association for the work we do in preventing in-patient falls.
We started our falls program in 2010 and have been improving it every year. In 2015, we only had five falls. Last year, we only had five falls as well, and we broke our record by going 234 days without any falls.
You might hear this and wonder, why is that such a big deal? Falls don’t happen in a hospital setting.
Actually, patients in a hospital are especially at risk for falling because if you’re at the hospital, the chances are that you’re sick, you’re not feeling well, you might be dizzy, and you could be taking medications that impair your coordination. Those are all recipes for a fall.
For those reasons, we conduct a risk assessment on every patient who stays at the hospital, whether they’re at a high or low risk for a fall or if they’re at risk for injury if they do fall.
Once we know that, we use lots of different methods to let all of the nurses and other staff know who is most at risk, such as signs by their rooms, wristbands, colored slippers and a magnet board.
Then we lower that patient’s risk by using alarms and closely monitoring them.
Beds are lined with railings and have pressure-sensitive alarms to alert us if a patient tries to get out of bed.
We also make rounds to check on patients every hour during the day and every two hours during the night, and sometimes it’s more than that. Most importantly, we ask if they need to use the bathroom, if they’re in any pain or if they need to be repositioned because a lot of times, those are leading factors in falls.
In the event that a fall does occur, we are prepared. We stay with the patient and make sure they don’t try to get up. We check if they can move and ask them what hurts. Then we use a powered lift to get them off the floor.
After that, we examine what caused it so that we can stop it from happening again.
Patient safety is our highest priority. We’re extremely proud of the work we’ve done and continue to do to keep our patients safe, and reaching that goal involves everyone at the hospital working together as a team.
About the Author: Going on five years at Tri-County Health Care, Tiffany Orsello is a health unit coordinator and a certified nursing assistant with a passion for giving TCHC patients the best health care possible. She lives in Wadena with her husband, Joe, and son, Joey, with another baby boy due at the end of August.