Website spotlight: Maryland program provides road map for reducing patient falls

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, May 28, 2010

More than two dozen hospitals are participating in the Maryland Patient Safety Center's (MPSC) SAFE from FALLS initiative. The project, based on a program by the same name being run through the Minnesota Hospital Association, has been providing facilities around the state with a road map for forming a comprehensive falls prevention program since July 2009.

The program is not mandatory, but is a valuable initiative in which to take part, says Susan D. McDonald, BSN, JD, director of risk management at Peninsula Regional Medical Center (PRMC) in Salisbury, MD. Her facility, a 375-bed acute care hospital, has been a part of the SAFE from FALLS program since its beginnings.

"We really already had many of the best practices in place," says McDonald. "Most hospitals have had falls programs in place for years, quite frankly. But what this forced you to do was really take a hard look at what your program consists of." For example, PRMC re-evaluated its method for flagging patients as fall risks. The organization has "moved away from the clever" and taken a more direct route to doing this, says McDonald. The hospital now places signs that say "risk of fall" on patients' doors, and prints orange arm bands with the words "fall risk" on them to place on the wrists of patients who are at risk of falling.

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