How Nebraska hospital cut patient falls in half

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Kearney (Neb.) Regional Medical Center has cut its patient fall rate in half since launching a safety program last October, Kearney Hub reported June 10.

When the No Falls program was implemented, Kearney Regional's fall rate was 5.7 per 1,000 patient days. This figure now sits at 2.6 per 1,000, though it did dip even lower to 1.1 for a while, according to Shari Freeman, the medical surgical unit manager who launched the program.

Every patient's fall risk is detailed on a large board at each unit's nursing station, and staff reassess each patient's risk every 12 hours. High-risk patients are given yellow hospital gowns and socks and have a yellow light outside their rooms, which serve as visual indicators for staff.

Kearney Regional is also implementing patient beds with better fall alarms that alert nurses if high-risk patients get out of bed. A new task force is studying how additional equipment could reduce falls. 

The hospital keeps track of how many days each department has been fall-free. This spring, the medical-surgical unit went 84 days without a fall. 

"If a patient falls and is injured, the average additional cost of that is $30,000, plus an increased hospital stay," Ms. Freeman told Kearney Hub, adding that most patients have been receptive to the new rules.  

"We tell patients, 'We are here for your safety. We don't want you to get hurt,'" she said.

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