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Wheelchair News, Issue #007#---Fall Prevention Awareness
September 24, 2011

With the arrival of fall we need to spread the word about National Fall Prevention Awareness in September.

Just what is fall prevention and what can you do to stay safe?

Definition Of Fall Prevention

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) list patient falls as a Never Event. CMS defines never events as “errors in medical care that are clearly identifiable, preventable, and serious in their consequences for patients, and that indicate a real problem in the safety and credibility of a health care facility.” Since June 2008, when CMS mandated that they would refuse to reimburse hospitals for a list of identified never events, limiting the occurrence of patient falls “never events” has been a top concern to hospitals across the nation.

Preventing falls among patients in healthcare settings requires a multi discipline approach, and the recognition, evaluation and prevention of patient falls are significant challenges.

How Serious Is The Problem Of Falling?

Among individuals age 65 and older:

• 60% of fatal falls happen at home

• 30% occur in public places

• 10% occur in health care institutions

Cause Of Falls

A fall can mean a change in someone’s life. When an older person falls, he or she may not be able to lead an active and independent life. Each year thousands of men and women are disabled, by falls that results in broken bones.

Some small changes in your home and lifestyle might prevent such falls. In many cases age brings changes in vision, hearing, muscle strength, coordination and reflexes. These conditions may make people more likely to fall. Such medical conditions as diabetes, heart conditions, disorders of the nervous system and thyroid can affect your balance. Some may be treatable, and some may be side effects that cause dizziness or light-headedness in older persons.

Osteoporosis is a condition in which bone mass is lost so that bones are more fragile and break easily. This is a major cause of bone fractures in women after menopause and in older people in general. For someone with severe osteoporosis, even a minor fall may cause one or more bones to break. Preventing falls is very important for these people.

Top Ten Reasons For Falls In Health Care Settings

1. Contaminants on the Floor: Food, Water, Grease, Fluids, Oil

2. Poor Drainage: Pipes and Drains

3. Indoor Walking Surface Irregularities

4. Outdoor Walking Surface Irregularities

5. Weather Conditions: Ice and Snow

6. Inadequate Lighting

7. Stairs and Handrails

8. Stepstools and Ladders

9. Tripping Hazards: Clutter including loose cords, hoses, wires and medical tubing

10. Improper Use of Floor Mats and Runners

How To Prevent Falls

Falls and accidents seldom “just happen.” Many can be prevented. Each of us can take steps to make our homes safer and lower the chances of falling. Here are some ideas to help prevent falls and fractures.

Things as simple as good lighting, clear pathways, picking up throw rugs, keeping physically fit and active, having your hearing and vision tested at regular checkups are just a few ways to prevent falls. Check with your pharmacist about side effects of drugs you currently are taking.

Staying comfortable, not getting too hot, or rising and moving too quickly, using a cane or walking stick for balance on uneven surfaces, and wearing shoes with low heels and rubber soles to help prevent you from slipping are a few more ideas to help prevent falls.

There are a number of things you can do to keep yourself or your loved one safer. Take a look around and make those small changes now.

Your friend,


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