According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, a fall is defined as, “A failure to maintain an appropriate lying, sitting or standing position, resulting in an individual’s abrupt, undesired relocation to a lower level. ”Although not explicitly stated, this definition would also suggest that a fall would include those situations in which an individual is assisted to the floor by a staff member – in order to prevent a fall from occurring. The reality of falls and fall–related injuries is quite disturbing. Each year, a typical100 bed nursing home will report anywhere between 100 and 200 falls – and many facilities are believed to actually under report incidents of falls. Moreover, the literature further suggests that as many as 3 out of every 4 residents may fall each year, which is actually twice the rate of falls for older adults living in the community. If that weren’t enough, the literature further indicates that a resident who has fallen once can be expected to fall and additional 2.6 times within the next 12 months.
FALL–RELATED INJURIES ARETHE LEADING CAUSE OF DEATHAMONG NURSING HOME RESIDENTS!
Falls account for 87 percent of all fractures among our residents aged 65 or older, and are the leading cause of spinal cord and brain injury. With regard to mortality rates, 20 percent of all deaths among those 65 or older are attributable to fall–related injuries. The bottom line? Fall–related injuries are the leading cause of death among nursing home residents. We must, therefore, do everything that we can to identify fall risks and reduce fall–related injuries.
There is nothing that we can do to avoid gravity. However, while we may not be able to do anything to reduce the role of gravity in the fall patterns of our residents, there is a great deal we can do to reduce the frequency of falls – and of even greater importance, to reduce fall–related injuries.