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Falls: The Hidden Danger in Hospitals

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Hospitals are supposed to be safe. But increasingly, studies are showing that they can actually be dangerous—and not for the reasons that you may think.

When we think of potential dangers or risks in a hospital, we often just assume that medical errors or medical malpractice are the big risks that patients should worry about. And while malpractice is a risk, there is another risk that is much less publicized: the risk of falls.

Victims Aren’t Who You May Think

Hospitals present a unique mix of factors that make them dangerous for people who walk their hallways. About a million people every year fall inside hospitals, and contrary to what you may think, not all of the victims are older or infirm. In fact, only about 25% of hospital fall victims are elderly, whereas the bulk of fall victims in hospitals are in their 50s.

That may surprise you, but there are reasons that this more middle-aged population is more likely to fall inside hospitals.

One prevailing theory is that patients in their 50s may be more likely to believe that they are more mobile than they actually are; they may get up and walk about, ignoring the fact they may not be physically ready to do so.

Couple this with the assumption from hospital staff that patients in their 40s or 50s may be more mobile, and they may be less likely to attend to a patient that they see walking about their hospital hallways.

Remember as well that hospital falls don’t just include patients—they also include visitors, and many of them, in their 40s or 50s, may be visiting older relatives who are patients.

A Unique Mix of Risks

Patients and visitors of any age, all face some similar factors that combine to make hospitals a huge fall risk.

Patients are unfamiliar with their surroundings; when they get up to walk, they don’t know where to expect obstacles. Hospital rooms, which are often small, can be cramped and cluttered, filled with personal items.

The floor of a hospital isn’t designed for comfort or cushion; a fall on a hard hospital floor can lead to more severe injuries than falling on a rug might cause.

And many hospitals are just plain understaffed and slow to respond to bedridden patients’ requests. When those patients need attention and don’t get it in a timely manner, they are more likely to get up and wonder about when they shouldn’t be doing that.

Methods to Stop Falls

Hospitals today should have modern technology to help patients and visitors avoid falls.

For patients, beds with alarms when a patient gets up can go a long way to helping staff attend to someone walking about, who shouldn’t be mobile. Many patients are also equipped with armbands that mark whether they can and should be walking around on their own so that staff know to attend to and help someone when they see someone who shouldn’t be up and about.

Have you been injured in a hospital in Las Vegas, Henderson, Paradise, or Spring Valley? Contact the Las Vegas personal injury attorneys at Cameron Law today at 702-745-4545 for a free consultation and for help after your accident.

Sources:

ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6446937/

bmchealthservres.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12913-022-07638-7

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