Empath Health Quality and Service Excellence Advocate Liz Whitehurst

By Liz Whitehurst, RN – Empath Health Quality and Service Excellence Advocate

September is Fall Prevention Month. Falls cause many injuries and deaths each year. According to the CDC, every 20 minutes an older adult dies from a fall in the United States, and if the rate continues to rise it’s anticipated that there may be seven deaths every hour by 2030.

At Empath Health, we take the safety of our patients seriously. Our dedicated employees work with patients and their families to ensure safety and reduce the risk of falls. Our patient safety booklet covers falls and many other safety issues.

Fall Prevention Program

Our Fall Prevention program is in place to increase the quality of life for our patients by reducing the risk of harm from falls. Our team’s mission is to:

• Follow established best practices of care
• Identify fall risks
• Educate patients, families and staff

Safety in Care Centers

Our Suncoast Hospice Care Centers initiated and developed a Falling Leaf system to identify patients’ risk of falling. A fall assessment scale is used with patients and then corresponding colored leaves are placed on their doors to indicate fall risk. This method initially has reduced falls by more than 30% and continues to prove its effectiveness every day.

Risk of Falling

As you age, you may develop conditions that could require medications, glasses or hearing devices, and you may become unable to tend to household chores as you once did. These can be factors that could increase your risk of falling.

You may be at greater risk of falls if you:

• Fell within the past three months
• Have three or more health issues
• Have confusion, dementia, dizziness, weakness or sleepiness

Preventing Falls

Everyone needs to take an active role in preventing falls. You can:

• Find out if you’re at risk of falling – ask your healthcare provider
• Talk with your healthcare provider or pharmacist about your medications’ side effects that may contribute to falls
• Take steps that could help reduce your risk of falling, such as have your vision checked and keep your home well-lit and free of clutter