Five falls a day on our hospital wards

The number of people falling while in hospital on the Fylde coast hit a three-year high last year, figures revealed
The number of people falling while in hospital on the Fylde coast hit a three-year high last year, figures revealed
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A total of 1,735 patients fell while staying at Blackpool Victoria Hospital or Clifton Hospital in St Annes last year.

The figure, a three-year high, was released after a request under the Freedom of Information Act, which also revealed 27 people suffered ‘moderate harm, severe harm, or death’ as a result.

Some 17 patients suffered a fractured neck of femur – part of the hip bone – usually broken in car accidents, falls from height, and during sport.

An NHS report released earlier this year said a ‘fall in hospital can be devastating’.

It added: “The human cost of falling includes distress, pain, injury, loss of confidence, loss of independence, and increased morbidity and mortality.

“Falling also affects the family members and carers of people who fall, and has an impact on quality of life, health and social care costs.”

The effect of falls is estimated to cost the NHS around £2.3bn a year, with around 50 per cent thought to be preventable.

The elderly are most at risk, with falls the most commonly reported incident within mainstream hospitals, and the third most reported in mental health hospitals.

The NHS report said there is evidence that ‘assessments and interventions ... to identify and treat underlying reasons for falls in hospitals’ could stop around 25 to 30 per cent of them.

But it added: “Despite the evidence of potential for significant reduction in falls, these practices are not being applied systematically across hospital trusts.”

A spokesmanfor Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “Preventing falls is a high priority for the Trust and a great deal of work has been undertaken to increase reporting of all falls no matter what the severity while at the same time promoting training and awareness campaigns for staff.

“The FOI discussed is based on previous year’s figures but the percentage of patients suffering falls with harm regularly is better than the national average with further improvements in falls with harm noticeable from September 2016.

“A host of measures have been put into place in relation to preventing falls and our six months report for this year has shown further improvements which means we are predicting a significant decrease for falls with harm for 2017/18. Despite all this however we are looking after an increasing number of older, frail patients in our hospitals and this will have an effect in areas such as falls which is why it is such an important area for us.’’

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Falls are assigned one to five degrees of harm: no, low, moderate, severe, and death.

Moderate means medical treatment and hospital admission, surgery, or a longer stay in hospital, is likely required.

Severe means permanent harm – ie brain damage or disability – is likely to have occurred.