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The Joint Commission Launches Educational Campaign on Preventing Falls

Free downloadable educational materials help educate patients on fall prevention

The Joint Commission recently debuted its new Speak Up™ to Prevent Falls campaign—featuring free, downloadable educational materials in English and Spanish to help educate patients and their health care providers on how to avoid unnecessary falls.

Hundreds of thousands of patients fall in hospitals every year and 30% to 50% of these patients sustain an injury.1,2 Additionally, 50% to 75% of elder patients suffer from a nursing home fall each year.2,3 Of these multiple falls: one out of five cause a serious injury such as broken bones or head injury, with the overall average cost for a fall injury totaling about $14,000.4,5

The campaign’s ready-made, easy-to-read resources include the following:

• an infographic poster/flyer for patients and their families available in three sizes in English and Spanish;

• an animated video, available in English and Spanish, to incorporate in hospital programming; and

• a distribution guide with recommendations on how health care organizations can use and distribute the materials to patients and their families, caregivers, and advocates.

Speak Up™ to Prevent Falls outlines how to prevent falls and offers four primary areas of direction that patients, their caregivers and advocates can follow to actively prevent the risk of falls:

• Pay attention to health: Exercise regularly to build strength and balance, get frequent vision checks, and communicate with doctors about how to prevent or manage possible medication side effects that could induce dizziness.

• Take extra precautions: Recommended precautionary steps include turning on lights when entering a room, using handrails on staircases, wearing shoes with nonslip soles, and replacing rubber tips on canes and walkers when they become worn.

• Make small changes to home: Recommended modifications include decluttering regular pathways, including routes to the bathroom; installing timers and motion sensors on lights; using night lights in bedrooms, bathrooms, and hallways; replacing rugs that can slip with rubber mats; and installing nonslip mats in bathtubs/showers and grab bars near toilets and bathtubs/showers.

• Ask for help in the hospital or nursing home: Patients are encouraged to always use their call button to ask for caregiver assistance getting out of bed and for help going to the toilet. In addition, direction is given to lower the height of the patient’s bed and side rails.

About the Speak Up™ Program
Launched in 2002, the award-winning Speak Up™ program has been used in more than 70 countries. It encourages patients to be their own advocates and to do the following:

Speak up.
Pay attention.
Educate yourself.
Advocates (family members and friends) can help.
Know about your new medicine.
Use a quality health care organization.
Participate in all decisions about your care.

The campaign is the third to be introduced in The Joint Commission’s refreshed Speak Up™ program that debuted last year, after national market research including focus group feedback from patients and their families.

For updates on new Speak Up™ campaigns as they become available, sign up for email alerts or subscribe to the e-newsletter Joint Commission Online. For more information about the Speak Up™ program, visit The Joint Commission website.

1. Ash K, MacLeod P, Clark L. A case control study of falls in the hospital setting. J Gerontol Nurs. 1998;24(12):7-15.

2. Sterling DA, O’Connor JA, Bonadies J. Geriatric falls: injury severity is high and disproportionate to mechanism. J Trauma. 2001;50(1):116-119

3. Alexander BH, Rivara FP, Wolf ME. The cost and frequency of hospitalization for fall-related injuries in older adults. Am J Public Health. 1992;82(7):1020-1023.

4. Galbraith J, Butler JS, Memon AR, Dolan MA, Harty JA. Cost analysis of a falls-prevention program in an orthopaedic setting. Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2011;469(12):3462-3468.

5. Haines TP, Hill AM, Hill KD, et al. Cost effectiveness of patient education for the prevention of fall in hospital: economic evaluation from a randomized controlled trial. BMC Med. 2013;11:135.

Source: The Joint Commission