Older inpatients should have blood pressure monitored to reduce falls risk, audit shows

One third of those using walking aids could not safely access them, according to audit of almost 5,000 patients

Hospitals must do more to lessen the risk of patients falling by monitoring blood pressure, the first national audit for inpatient falls has concluded.

The audit, by the Royal College of Physicians and the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership, showed that 84% of patients did not have their lying and standing blood pressure recorded.

This is important because patients may suffer from drops in blood pressure on standing which increases their risk of falling.

The audit also found that one third of patients using walking aids could not safely access them, which limited their ability to walk safely.

These findings are taken from an audit of nearly 5,000 patients aged 65 and above in England and Wales across 170 hospitals.

The analysts estimated that there about six falls for every 1,000 occupied bed days in hospitals.

Shelagh O’Riordan, clinical lead for the audit, said: ‘The human cost of falling includes distress, pain, injury, loss of confidence, loss of independence and mortality. Inpatient falls were thought to cost £15 million to trusts alone in 2007 and will be more expensive now. Therefore falling has an impact on quality of life, health and healthcare costs.'

In a report, the auditors made 12 recommendations for change, including that all providers have a board level falls steering group to monitor falls prevention, regularly review the use of bed rails and assess all patients over 65 for visual impairment.

To read the report, click here


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