Fall Prevention

A patient fall is a sudden, unintentional descent to the floor during a hospital stay. It is important for Tufts Medical Center staff to help patients avoid these falls in order to reduce the risk of serious injuries.

How are we monitoring the care we provide?

At Tufts Medical Center, we are committed to reducing patient falls, both in the hospital and at home. As part of our fall prevention program, our nursing staff assesses every patient, every day, for the risk of falling.

What measures are we taking to improve?

We work with every patient to implement strategies to help prevent falls. Based on your individual risk, we may ask you to wear yellow, non-slip socks, a yellow falls risk bracelet and use an alarm system that notifies staff if you get out of bed. These strategies help to remind patients, family and staff that you may need assistance. Our nurses will work with you to take other proactive steps, such as offering you the chance to use the bathroom regularly and consult physical therapists to evaluate and treat mobility limitations.

How can patients and families contribute? 

Even if you are usually steady on your feet, a stay in the hospital can be challenging. You are in unfamiliar surroundings, may feel weak after surgery or treatment, could be taking medications that make you feel sleepy or disoriented, or might be connected to IVs or other equipment that makes movement difficult. Taking the following precautions can go a long way in helping to prevent falls:

  • Ask for assistance from the nursing staff, especially at night.
  • Ask a staff member to make sure your call button, telephone and other personal items are near you.
  • Ask your nurse to make sure that your bed is in the lowest position. 
  • Sit at the edge of the bed for a few minutes before getting up to avoid feeling dizzy.
  • Report any spills or objects that are on the floor.
  • Wear non-skid footwear.
  • Make sure you have adequate light to see.
  • Ask a staff member to assist you with, or move, any equipment before you get out of bed.
  • Use your hearing aid, glasses, walker or cane.

How are these strategies being evaluated?

Our Hospital Fall and Injury Prevention Team review all patient falls and use scientific best practices to reduce the fall risk to our patients. Tufts MC’s patient falls are reported to PatientCareLink, a healthcare quality and transparency collaborative comprised of Massachusetts hospitals. Our patient fall rates are compared against our peer group of other Academic Medical Centers in Massachusetts.

Tufts MC is also a member of the National Database for Nursing Quality Indicators (NDNQI). This database allows us to compare our performance against hospitals nationally.

We also participate in Children’s Hospitals’ Solutions for Patient Safety, by implementing best practices for pediatric falls that are specifically designed for our younger patients.

How are we doing?

Tufts Medical Center has significantly lower rates of patient falls for most inpatient units when compared to our Peer Group Average. 

A graph that shows the number of patient falls for 1,000 day period 

A graph that shows the number of patient falls with an injury in 2018.  

Source: PatientCareLink