Hospital Enlists Volunteers To Prevent Falls

Information from the Centers for Disease Control:

  • One out of three adults age 65 and older falls each year,1 but less than half talk to their healthcare providers about it.
  • Among older adults (those 65 or older), falls are the leading cause of injury death. They are also the most common cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions for trauma.
  • In 2010, 2.3 million nonfatal fall injuries among older adults were treated in emergency departments and more than 662,000 of these patients were hospitalized.
  • In 2010, the direct medical costs of falls, adjusted for inflation, was $30.0 billion.

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Accidental falls are among the most common concerns if you're ever in the hospital.

That's why Topeka's Stormont-Vail HealthCare has enlisted the help of volunteers to lower the chances they'll happen.

Headed to medical school in the fall, Washburn student Adam Wetzel is getting an early lesson in patient care. He's among the volunteers on the front lines of Stormont-Vail's "Call - Don't Fall" program."

Wetzel says all patients, regardless of factors like age or disability, are considered at risk for fall. The idea of the program is to encourage patients to "call" for help in getting up to lower their risk of "falling."

The volunteers task is to head off the need for patients to get up in the first place. Wetzel says they have a checklist of things to go through and reiterate safety policies to the patients. For example, they make sure items like the call light and telephone are within easy reach of the patients. They also make sure the bed alarm is on so the health care team is alerted should the patient get up unassisted. Finally, the volunteers will ask if there is anything the patient needs, such as water or reading material.

Volunteers might also look for any clutter in the rooms that might pose a hazard to a patient in unfamiliar surroundings or dizzy or disoriented due to medications.

Wetzel says patients seem to appreciate the extra personal contact. Plus, he's gained a perspective he feels will serve him well as he embarks on his career. To be good at the job, he says, you have to put yourself in the role of the patient, so he tries to learn from the patients so he will be able to provide better care.

The program was launched last June.


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