Preventing Falls in the Hospital

Who is at risk for falls?

Anyone can fall. Falls occur in any age group, at any time and in any place. If a fall occurs while you are in the hospital, associated complications can prolong your hospital stay and your recovery. There are many reasons that increase the possibility of falling. Reasons include:

  • Illness, surgery, tests or treatments can make you weak or unsteady.
  • Medicines can make you dizzy or confused.
  • Medical equipment, such as IV pumps, oxygen or tubes can make it difficult to move without help.
  • Lack of sleep and unfamiliar surroundings can affect your judgment.

Staff members will:

  • Ask about your history of falls before coming to the hospital to assess your risk of falling.
  • Orient you to your new surroundings.
  • Place the call bell and needed objects within your reach.
  • Answer your call bell as soon as possible.
  • Help you get in/out of bed and with toileting, as needed.
  • Provide non-skid footwear.
  • Keep the environment free of unneeded equipment, furniture or clutter.
  • Place special armbands on your wrist if you are at increased risk of falling.

You can decrease your risk of falling by:

  • Telling your nurse if you have a history of falling.
  • Using the call bell to ask for help before trying to get out of bed or go to the bathroom.
  • Making sure the call bell and other needed items are within your reach before family or staff member leave your room.
  • After calling for help, stay where you are and wait for the staff to come and help you.
  • When getting out of bed, sit on the side of the bed before standing. Stand slowly since some medications or conditions can make you dizzy when you change positions.
  • When finished in the bathroom, using the call bell and wait for staff to assist you back to your bed.
  • Wearing non-skid footwear and using equipment provided for your safety.
  • Do not use IV poles or furniture with wheels for support while walking.

Family and loved ones can help prevent falls

  • Tell the nurse if you, the patient, have a history of falls.
  • Check with the nurse before getting you in/out of bed.
  • Remind you to call for help before getting out of bed.
  • Place the call bell and other needed items within your reach.
  • Remind you of your surroundings if you are forgetful or confused and alert the staff when they leave your bedside.
  • Refrain from tampering with any alarms or equipment in use to alert the nurse if you attempt to get up without asking for help.
  • Inform the nurse if there are any routines that can help to prevent falls and keep you safe.

Preventing falls at home

Falls can occur in any age group. An illness or physical condition may affect your strength and balance, making you more likely to fall. To reduce the chance of falling, you can:

  • Avoid walking on wet floors.
  • Remove loose carpets, tiles and throw rugs, or tack down edges.
  • Remove or reduce equipment in halls or walkways, including electric cords.
  • Improve lighting (e.g., adding night lights).
  • Walk cautiously on waxed floors.
  • Wear well-fitting shoes or slippers with skid prevention.
  • Use assistive devices such as canes, walkers and wheelchairs as needed.
  • Place grab bars securely in bathrooms around toilets, bathtubs and shower areas.
  • Before getting out of bed, sit on the side before standing up.
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The George Washington University Hospital is owned and operated by a subsidiary of Universal Health Services, Inc.(UHS), a King of Prussia, PA-based company, that is one of the largest healthcare management companies in the nation.          

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Washington, DC 20037

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Note:The information on this Web site is provided as general health guidelines and may not be applicable to your particular health condition. Your individual health status and any required medical treatments can only be properly addressed by a professional healthcare provider of your choice. Remember: There is no adequate substitution for a personal consultation with your physician. Neither The George Washington University Hospital , or any of their affiliates, nor any contributors shall have any liability for the content or any errors or omissions in the information provided by this Web site.            

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