Reducing Falls by Engaging Patients

Brigham and Women’s ‘Fall TIPS’ tool offers tailored approach to falls prevention

When clinicians walk into a patient’s room at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, they only need a quick glance at a laminated, color-coded sheet of paper next to the bed to understand the fall risks of that patient.

Over the course of several years, hospital leaders at Brigham and Women’s have refined their approach to fall prevention through the facility’s “Fall TIPS (Tailoring Interventions for Patient Safety)” program. In addition to fall risk screening and assessment protocols that allow clinicians to tailor fall prevention plans to the needs of the patient, the hospital has developed a color-coded sheet that quickly explains to the patient, family members, and any clinician that walks into the room, the specific fall risks of each patient and their personalized fall interventions.

Patricia C. Dykes, PhD, RN, FAAN, FACMI, senior nurse scientist and research program director at the Center for Nursing Excellence at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, explained the facility’s program during a webcast hosted by the National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF). During the webcast, she emphasized the importance of developing tailored interventions for each patient based on evidence-based risk assessment tools, and taking time to explain the fall risks and interventions to the patient.

Brigham and Women’s approach has been refined over the last several years. Based on previous research that showed falls were frequently linked to communication errors, in 2009 the hospital built a health IT application that produced tailored fall interventions based on a risk assessment filled out by a nurse. The application included posters that nurses could print out and attach near the bed, with icons to differentiate various risks and interventions.

This is an excerpt from the July issue of Patient Safety Monitor Journal. Subscribers can read the rest of the article here. Find out more about the journal, its benefits, and how to subscribe by clicking here.