If you are a staff member at a hospital, or tend to visit the hospital due to your health, or visit a family member, there are many times where it can be a hazard to walk through the hallways. Whether due to poor lighting, improper care, or just slow reaction times of the staff, the possibility of a hazard being left unattended can be mean higher rates of slips and falls within the hospital grounds.
Although it can be dealt with through filing a claim, there are active preventive measures that a hospital can take to ensure that slips and falls are almost never given a chance. These are the top 12 hospital practices that can help reduce the chance of “never events” occurring within a hospital.
12 Hospital Practices
- Familiarize Patient with the environment
The best practice in a hospital is to help get a patient acquainted with their new environment. As many are not used to being within the hospital on a daily basis, it may be necessary to show them basic accommodations and where to find them. Properly introducing them to these areas will help to ensure that they do not fall prone to simple accidents.
2. Have the Patient demonstrate call light use
Helping the patient understand that they do not need to deal with everything on their own is one step to ensuring that they do not attempt to do anything above their means. In the situation of using the call light, letting a patient know that there are those that are on staff to assist them with simple activities can ensure that the patient will not attempt anything outside of their own means and capabilities.
3. Keep the patient’s personal possessions within patient safe reach
Many reasons as to why a patient may attempt to get up or move when they are not supposed to is due to them just needing their own necessities. Items like a phone, books, or a purse/backpack are items that patients feel most comfortable when they are able to reach it with ease. Moving and storing items safely and within a patient’s reach can give them immense peace of mind.
4. Have sturdy handrails in patient bathrooms, room and hallway
When a patient is in the hospital, they will still need to move around the hallways and rooms as they would at home. However, they may not be as versatile and mobile as they once thought they were. Because of this, installing and maintaining handrails and guardrails in high traffic areas ensures that patients will have assistance when walking and moving, even when a staff member may not be readily available.
5. Place bed in appropriate position depending on patient activity
This may seem a bit nonsensical, but having the bed in an appropriate position for the patient helps to maintain a healthy and easy quality of life. If the patient is looking to watch the television, tilt the bed up slightly. If the patient is looking to get out of bed soon, look to raise the bed to a comfortable height to help them get out of the bed smoothly and easily.
6. Keep hospital bed brakes locked.
Within hospitals, moving and preparing patients while still on their beds is common practice. Because of this, however, the beds that patients are on tend to be quite mobile, and easy to move around. As such, make sure to always lock the wheels on the bed. This will help to stop any possible shifting beds, and the patient will be less likely to injure themselves while moving around in their rooms.
7. Keep wheelchair wheel locks in the locked position when stationary.
When using a wheelchair, ensure that, at any point when the patient is not moving, that the wheel locks are put in the locked position. This includes times when the patient may be watching the television, playing a game at a table, or even attempting to go to the bathroom. Not only does this help keep them stationed in one place, but it also ensures that the patient has a suitable and stable platform to push off of if they plan to try to get up, or get out of the wheelchair
8. Keep non-slip, comfortable, well-fitting footwear on the patient.
Proper equipment and clothing for a patient can be highly underrated. In a hospital, tile or laminate flooring is often used liberally, and spill-resistant coatings tend to be used as well to keep the flooring easily cleaned. Because of this, make sure patients have non-slip, well-fitting footwear to help grip the floor better, and to help maintain their balance when walking.
9. Use night lights and proper lighting
Lighting and area brightness plays a huge part in ensuring the safety of patients. Ensure that the patients are able to see clearly in front of them with well-lit interior and exterior walkways. Replace any burnt-out bulbs or lights, and always use night lights at night to help patients navigate their way through the hallways.
10. Keep floor surfaces clean and dry. Clean up all spills promptly.
Chemical and liquid spills are one of the top reasons why slip and fall accidents occur within hospitals. To stifle this, it is important to be attentive and aware of spills and possible wet surfaces that may create problems. If a spill is reported to you, clean it up efficiently and quickly to ensure no one has to come in contact with it. If it is too much and must be dealt with later, ensure that there is proper signage and warnings for those walking so that they know not to get too close.
11. Keep patient care areas uncluttered.
Along with making sure a patient’s belongings are close and within reach of their bed, ensure that the patient care areas are clear of unneeded or unnecessary clutter. This can include, but is not limited to:
- Excess chairs
- Toys and games
- Leftover food and trash/garbage
If properly maintained, and only holding the necessary items, the patients will have less to accidently trip or slip on within the patient care areas.
12. Follow safe patient handling practices.
Properly handling patients that are at varying levels of severity is the most basic ways to ensure they do not slip and fall. Depending on their diagnosis and healing process, it may be necessary for you to be much softer in your care. For instance, if the patient is elderly and recently broke their arm or leg, you may need to take extra time helping them move from the bed to a wheelchair. If they were admitted for a recent car injury and has multiple brain problems, look to follow them more closely and monitor their progress. These simple handling procedures can mean the difference of a fall, or a catch.