By Caroline Grimard
Published on November 16, 2021
Falls associated with serious injuries are among the top 10 reported events according to the Joint Commission¹. Health care professionals are constantly being challenged to put in place effective fall prevention programs to help minimize falls. One of the ways health care organizations can support their fall prevention programs is by ensuring that their hospital beds provide key features that aligns with their goals.
They are 5 main features to consider when using your hospital beds, or even with the purchase of new beds, to support fall prevention programs:
Low-height beds contribute to fall prevention programs, since fall incidents often take place when a patient tries to get out or back into bed. One of the best ways, according to the Joint Commission², of ensuring safe patient egress and ingress, is to keep the bed in the lowest position possible.
A study³ (Tzeng, 2010) in an acute care hospital found that 51.4% of the adult inpatient fall incidents and 56.0% of the adult inpatient injurious falls occurred while the patient was getting out of or back to the bed.
Keeping in the bed at a low height can ensure safe patient egress and ingress, and help support your fall prevention programs. There are beds that can go as low such as 10 inches from the patient deck to the floor. This allows for smaller patients to be able to sit and put their feet on the ground.
However, for a patient that is very tall, then perhaps this 10-inch low height is too low for them. For these instances, the nurse staff can configure a low height standard through the bed’s smart screen. The ability to customize the height of the bed can help improve fall prevention protocols put in place.
Hospital beds should also provide a clear zone for the heels – allowing the patient to exit the bed without any obstruction. It is important that the patient can comfortably sit on the edge of the bed and place their feet on the floor to feel more stable. Also, an ergonomic handgrip on the siderail is crucial to providing patients with that support to exit the bed.
Bed-exit detection systems can help staff proactively monitor patient movement while in bed. The Joint Commission⁴ recommends having preventative devices, such as alarms, to reduce fall events, and in a 2015 study⁵, the use of hospital beds with integrated three-mode sensitivity exit alarms resulted in a 20% decrease in falls, and a 40% decrease in falls causing an injury.
Medical beds can usually have various levels of monitoring. The three levels to look for are:
In addition to the bed-exit detection systems, the alarms should be visual and audible to better suit the needs of your team and your patients. These alarms can also be connected to nurse call systems to alert staff.
In a special sentinel event alert issued, the Joint Commission⁶ states that “employing data-driven analysis can help fall prevention teams to continually re-evaluate and improve the approach to patient falls prevention and injury reduction within specific setting.” This can be done from your hospital bed.
Medical beds can provide a history of bed event data – such as bed-exit and detection alarms. Tracking the history of these events and disclosing it throughout the hospital can help teams share and learn from other and be proactive. With connected solutions, bed data can also be viewed remotely and in real-time, making it even more easy to share in between staff and units.
Lastly, medical beds with integrated scales can provide accurate readings of patient weight while they are still in bed, providing even more information to the data log.
And finally, providing patients with a clear view of surroundings can help minimize the risk of falls. Research⁸ reveals that environmental factors commonly causing falls are related to tripping hazards and bad lighting - espacially in patients with poor balance. Hospital beds can be equipped with smart nightlights that automatically light up when a patient steps out of bed – providing patients with a clear view of surroundings to prevent trips or falls.
5 ways Umano Medical beds can help support your team’s fall prevention program
Discover our ook snow hospital bed, and how it can change the way your team develops its fall prevention program.
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