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Erie County Medical Center Reduces Geropsychiatric Falls

It is commonly known that senior patients are at risk of falling due to physiological factors; however, geriatric patients can also face psychiatric risks of falling brought on by confusion, use of psychotropic medications, and electroconvulsive therapy. In 2016, Erie County Medical Center (ECMC) began a falls reduction improvement program to focus on preventing geropsychiatric falls.

A multidisciplinary team was created to proactively identify patients at high risk for falls and a geriatric medical team was established to work closely with them to address risks. Occupational therapy staff scheduled conditioning groups and physical therapy on the unit to help reduce falls. A “Fall Patrol” was also established, in which a direct care staff member was assigned to three high-risk patients each shift. Assignment to the Fall Patrol is rotated among staff and a fall huddle is conducted during shift changes to review at-risk patients and identify the three patients for Fall Patrol for the next shift.

Two years after beginning its initiative, ECMC reduced geropsychiatric falls by 56%. Additionally, a culture of mindfulness, urgency, and heightened awareness was established among hospital staff when addressing fall prevention.

For more information, contact Matthew P. Warne, AAS, RN, Team Leader, Erie County Medical Center, at (716) 898-4776 or at mwarne@ecmc.edu or Jillian Brown, MSW, RN-BC, Clinical Manager, Behavioral Health, at (716) 898-5817 or at jbrown4@ecmc.edu.