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Fall Safety in the Hospital

Falls sometimes happen in hospitals. Even people who are strong and have never fallen  before may fall when they are patients. Patients may be at risk for falling because of:

  • Medicines
  • Unfamiliar surroundings
  • Weakness after being in bed
  • Anesthesia or spinal procedures

Fall safety for all patients

At UPMC, we take steps to try to prevent all patients from falling. These are called  universal precautions. You and your visitors can help to keep yourselves safe by using these guidelines.

  • We make sure you know where your call light is and how to call the nurse with it. We encourage patients to call for assistance.
  • We put your personal items where you can reach them easily.
  • We put patient beds in low position.
  • We use locks on the side rails of your bed.
  • We keep the area free of spills. If anything spills, be sure to use the call light right away to ask for cleanup.
  • We keep pathways clear.
  • We make sure that the room lights are working.
  • We give patients non-slip footwear.
  • We instruct the patient and family about fall safety.
  • If you use a walker or cane at home, we keep it close at hand for you. 

Safe bed exit

Getting in and out of bed safely is very important in avoiding falls. At UPMC, we identify one side of your hospital bed as the “Safe Exit” side. The Safe Exit side is your strong side. For instance, if you had surgery on your right shoulder, your left side is stronger so your Safe Exit would be the left side of the bed.

If you do not have a “strong” side, then the Safe Exit side is automatically the side of the bed that is closest to the bathroom. For your safety, always get in and out of bed on the Safe Exit side.

We also recommend the following placement of items in your room:

Safe Exit Side of Bed

  • Any walking aids, such as a cane or walker
  • Night stand
  • IV pole (if being used)
  • Bedside commode (if being used)

Non-Exit Side of Bed

  • Over-bed table
  • Visitor chairs
  • Trash can
  • Electrical cords (when possible)

Level 1 additional safety measures

Some patients have more risk for falling than others. For these patients, we use more safety measures in addition to the universal ones.

  • We educate the patient and the staff about the patient’s risk for harm.
  • We put a yellow arm band on the patient to remind staff to be extra careful.
  • We make rounds regularly to meet the patient’s needs for pain relief, change of position, bathroom needs, and to be sure that the call bell, personal items, and bedside table are all in their proper place.

The nurse also will consider whether the patient should have any of these:

  • Bed alarm
  • Chair alarm
  • Consult with a pharmacist about his or her medicines
  • Physical or occupational therapy
  • Bedside commode
  • Elevated toilet seat
  • Personal alarm
  • Lap belt

Level 2 additional safety measures

Some patients have a high risk for being hurt by falling. For these patients, we use even more safety measures in addition to the universal ones and Level 1 safety measures.

  • Bed alarm
  • Chair alarm

The nurse also will consider whether the patient should have any of these:

  • Low bed suite: bed, mattress, floor mats, over-bed table
  • Room location near the unit station
  • Perimeter mattress cover
  • Hip protector
  • Helmet
  • Person to stay with the patient, called a sitter

Help us keep you safe

Feel free to call on us to help you at any time. When in doubt, call for help. If you have any questions or concerns, ask the nurse.

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