Despite many reminders all over your healthcare facility, accidents remain unavoidable. The trick remains to learn from them, then take proactive steps to keep such problems to a minimum or, better yet, zero.
Unfortunately, facilities managers and their staffs may not be learning quickly enough. This may explain why you’ve read repeated reminders here and elsewhere, for example, about the great need for a safe floor program in healthcare facilities.
There’s no line item in a facilities management budget for falls, but there probably should be. According to recent stats, nearly half of all falls can be blamed on flooring that isn’t safe or clean.
More than 700,000 patients fall every year in American hospitals, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Also, the costs for each serious injury attributed to each fall by a patient increase a hospital’s operational costs by more than $13,000, based on stats from The Joint Commission.
If there was any lingering doubt about falls being a drain on a healthcare facility, Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) standard 1926.501 that governs fall protection sits atop the list of top 10 most frequently cited violations.
Fortunately, The Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare has found good solutions for falls and other healthcare facility-related problems with its Robust Process Improvement (RPI) program of tools and methods, based on Lean Six Sigma, change management processes and other methodologies and tools.
Seven hospitals in Texas, Missouri, Minnesota, California, New Hampshire and North Carolina — ranging in size from a 178-bed community hospital to a 1,700-bed academic medical center, participated in an RPI project aimed at reducing patient falls.
Using RPI tools, the participating healthcare facilities cut the rate of patient falls by 35 percent and the number of patients injured in falls dropped by 62 percent.
What’s more, these approaches implemented at a 200-bed hospital could slash the number of falls by more than half and save about $1 million in costs per year.
Overall, project participants identified 30 root causes for falls that led to 21 different solutions, according to Healthcare Finance. They also discovered solutions were more localized because the root causes of falls varied by hospital and even within different units of the same hospital.
To make preventing falls much easier, The Joint Commission for Transforming Healthcare is developing a new Targeted Solutions Tool (TST) module for 2015. Currently, TST modules are already available for accredited organizations to reduce problems with wrong site surgery, hand hygiene and hand-off communications.
For assistance with eliminating falls at your healthcare facility, contact Vanguard Resources.