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VM Reduces In-Hospital Falls through Safety Efforts
Hospital to Host Fall Prevention Awareness Event Sept. 20
SEATTLE, Wash. – (Sept. 12, 2007) – Virginia Mason Medical Center recognizes the
importance of preventing patient falls, and has made attaining zero falls in the hospital one of its
key safety goals in 2007. It will host a fall prevention open house from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 20 next to its cafeteria in support of Governor Gregoire's proclamation of the day
as Falls Prevention Day. Patients and family members are encouraged to learn tips for preventing
falls in the home, as well as learn more about Virginia Mason's in-hospital efforts.
In the last several years, Virginia Mason has made significant strides in reducing in-hospital falls.
To date in 2007, Virginia Mason has tracked 2.64 falls per 1,000 patient days – a reduction from
2006 statistics of 3.42 falls per 1,000 patient days.
"We've made Zero Falls an organizational priority," said Charleen Tachibana, RN, Virginia Mason
senior vice president and hospital administrator. "From our Acute Care for the Elderly Unit to our
orthopedic floor and even lower risk areas throughout the hospital, we've looked closely at the
data for when and how falls occur. Together with staff, we’ve come up with creative approaches
to prevent future falls."
One example of a falls prevention strategy is the Falling Star program. When a falling star flag
(hanging outside of all inpatient rooms) is raised, it indicates a patient may be at risk for a fall.
This visual cue helps nurses and staff members heighten awareness of patient risk.
Fall prevention is an ongoing effort at Virginia Mason. In June 2007, staff at Virginia Mason
looked at data from each hospital department to analyze risk. The resulting risk profile analysis
for one unit identified that male patients were at an increased risk between 5 and 7 a.m. each
morning, because they attempted to independently reach the restroom. As a result, the nursing
staff began a standardized approach to help patients reach the restroom in the early hours.
While there is no national average data available, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the
Institute for Healthcare Improvement and The Joint Commission all identify falls in and outside of
a hospital as a significant health issue.
According to the CDC, 13,700 people age 65 and older died in 2003 from falls, and 1.8 million
were treated in emergency departments for non-fatal injuries from falls. The total direct cost for
falls among older adults in 2000 was about $19 billion. Given the growing population of this age
group, this cost is expected to reach $43.8 billion by 2020.
Virginia Mason Medical Center
Virginia Mason Medical Center, founded in 1920, is a non-profit comprehensive regional health
care system that combines a primary and specialty care group practice of more than 400
physicians with a 336-bed acute care hospital in Seattle. In addition, Virginia Mason has a
network of clinics located throughout the Puget Sound area, and manages Bailey-Boushay House,
a nursing residence and adult day health program for people living with HIV and AIDS. Virginia
Mason also has an internationally recognized research center, Benaroya Research Institute at
Virginia Mason. For more information, please visit VirginiaMason.org.