Evidence-based expert: Use a stoplight to keep patients from falling

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, February 27, 2009

This week, Carole Eldridge, DNP, RN, CNAA-BC, provides two best practices for identifying patient’s who are at risk for falling.

Q: I want to reduce our patient fall numbers, but how do I help staff identify patients with high fall risks?

A: Patient’s who are at risk for falling may need to be identified in some way, depending on your hospital’s policies. For instance, patients with high fall risks could be identified with “falling” stars or leaves. Place the falling stars on patient’s medical records, on their doors, or in their rooms to alert staff to the patient’s particular fall risk issues.
Also consider implementing a stoplight system. This involves posting a picture of a stoplight in a patient’s room with a red, yellow, or green light. The colors stand for:

  • Red light—The patient should not be up without assistance and cannot be left unattended when in the bathroom
  • Yellow light—The patient requires a minimum of standby assistance for any activity
  • Green light—The patient may be up without assistance

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