High numbers of elderly patients fall in hospitals

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The number of elderly patients who fall over in hospitals in Doncaster and Bassetlaw is ‘significantly high’, according to new figures.

Work is continuing to improve the situation at hospitals in the region after it was revealed 845 patients fell in Doncaster and Bassetlaw Trust hospitals this year – 11 of which were serious.

A report discussed at Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group meeting said the number of falls ‘remains a significant high number’.

It added: “When compared with the number of admissions, it has been identified that there are a significantly high percentage of patients within care of the elderly wards who fall.”

Further analysis has revealed there are several patients who are falling on more than one occasion.

Extensive work has been going on in a bid to reduce the numbers including a training day in November dedicated to preventing falls.

Richard Parker, Director of Nursing, Midwifery & Quality at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We have been doing a lot of work to identify patients at risk of falling to try to reduce the occurrence and the number is in line with the national average.

“Our culture of reporting all falls, even where no harm has occurred, means we can learn from them. 

“As a result, the number of falls generally, as well as the most serious – those resulting in injuries – has decreased, in line with the national average.

“We want to continue to improve and do all we can to prevent falls from happening.

“Patients on medical and care of older people wards can be at particular risk because of frailty, health conditions and fitness levels.

“Where the patient’s risk assessment on admission shows they are at increased risk of falling, we take extra steps to try to reduce the likelihood of them falling.”

Mr Parker said the trust also holds regular forums and events, including the all-day symposium on November 21, to look in detail at the factors involved and how to prevent falls.  

The dedicated training day involved medical consultants, specialist nurses, physiotherapists and other experts from inside the trust and from other organisations sharing their knowledge and raising awareness of how ward staff can reduce the likelihood of patients falling.  

The day also enabled delegates to come up with further suggestions on how to prevent falls.

Nurses and doctors are advised to consider all patients aged 65 years and older to be at high risk of falling over.

Research shows the psychological impact of falling can have a crippling effect on the confidence and independence of older people, often increasing feelings of isolation and depression.

Half of those with a hip fracture never regain former levels of mobility and one in five die within three months of sustaining the injury.