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Hospital falls cost NHS £15m

28th February 2007

At least 26 people died after falling in hospital last year, according to a new report.

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The National Patient Safety Agency also found 500 people suffered hip fractures following a fall.

Almost one in five falls was preventable by implementing a series of measures, which could also save acute hospitals around £92,000 a year.

The NPSA Patient Safety Observatory (PSO) collected data from more than 200,000 incidents from over 500 acute, community and mental health trusts. It found that 96% of all incidents resulted in minor injuries or no harm.

Falls cost the NHS around £15 million every year, the report said, while an average acute hospital trust will have 24 incidents every week.

The report also looked into the circumstances of falls to identify risk factors. It found patients were most at risk when moving from a bed or chair, walking or using a toilet or commode.

Falls were also most likely to happen mid-morning when patients were most active and those aged over 80 were found to be most at risk. Most falls were caused by poor mobility and confusion related to ill health and old age, rather than environmental hazards.

Although the majority of incidents were not witnessed by staff, the study concludes constant observation would not be a realistic preventative method. Instead it calls for a balance between prevention and rehabilitation.

A range of good practice was identified to help trusts reduce falls, including testing safer flooring, safer bathrooms, basic eyesight tests, consistent lighting at night, zone or cohort observation and core care plans for falls prevention.


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