Understanding falls

Written by Valerie Creel with contributor Kristi Van Winkle

Falls pose a significant risk across all age groups, contributing to injuries, disabilities, and fatalities. This blog post delves into the importance of understanding falls, shedding light on the complexities involved in navigating legal cases related to falls. Although this topic may seem straightforward, there are many factors that impact a person’s risk of falling and measures that should be taken to keep them safe depending on their level of risk. Understanding these points will help navigate the legal implications of this topic.

Fall Statistics

Statistics reveal that falls account for a substantial portion of injury-related emergency department visits and deaths, comprising about 60% and 50%, respectively. Injuries from falls can range from minor to major, each coming with its own set of potential complications. As the population grows, these numbers relating to health care visits are expected to rise, emphasizing the urgency of addressing fall risks.

Fall Mechanics

Individuals are susceptible to falls due to various factors, such as gender, living conditions, and health history. Environmental hazards and underlying medical conditions like syncope which is loss of consciousness, heart issues such as heart attacks or low blood pressure or heart rate, strokes, certain medications, mobility problems, and more contribute to the complexity of fall causation. Legal nurse consultants play a vital role in deciphering the multifaceted issues surrounding falls and potential associated injuries. Understanding causation is an important part of fall related care in any setting and is paramount for a legal case.

Prevention

Given the severe consequences of falls, healthcare professionals emphasize the identification and prevention of fall risks. Healthcare facilities adhere to standards of care, utilizing assessments and screening tools to identify at-risk patients. Fall risk precautions, tailored to individual scores, are implemented, aiming to maintain functional ability while preventing falls.

Basic fall precautions vary but commonly include distinctive clothing, signage, bed alarms, specialty beds, and patient education. Healthcare staff must be well-versed in facility-specific policies and procedures to create a safe environment for patients.

Post-Fall Care

Despite implementation of precautions, falls do still occur. Post-fall care involves assessing and treating injuries, determining the cause, addressing environmental conditions, treating underlying medical issues, filing reports, and re-evaluating fall precautions. Legal nurse consultants can provide valuable insights by reviewing medical records and identifying missing pieces in the complex puzzle of fall prevention and treatment.

Fall prevention and post-fall care are intricate aspects of healthcare, requiring a comprehensive approach. As falls can have devastating consequences, having a legal nurse consultant on your team becomes crucial. Their expertise in examining cases, reviewing records, and identifying nuances ensures a thorough understanding of the complexities involved in falls, ultimately contributing to better outcomes for all parties involved.

References:

Appeadu MK, Bordoni B. Falls and fall prevention in the elderly. In: StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing; 2023.

Falls. World Health Organization.

Haddad YK, Bergen G, Luo F. Reducing fall risk in individuals. AJN The American Journal of Nursing. 2018;118(7):21.

Montero-Odasso M, van der Velde N, et al. World guidelines for falls prevention and management for individuals: a global initiative. Journal of Age and Aging. 2022

Valerie Creel

Valerie Creel

Valerie Creel is the owner of Bridge Point Legal Nurse Consulting. Valerie has been an RN since 2013 and has extensive experience with Critical Care, having been in ICU for the entirety of her Nursing career. Valerie has worked with Trauma, Neuro, and Medical ICU patients including providing care through the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition to her nursing experience, she worked providing prehospital care in the 911 system of San Mateo County from 2007-2014. She had the opportunity to work with complex trauma and multi-casualty incidents including the Asiana Airline Crash at SFO in 2013. Valerie holds her board certification in Critical Care and earned her Bachelors Degree from Grand Canyon University. She has been working in the legal nursing field since 2021 and has completed her coursework to specialize in Strangulation. She will also complete her Forensic Nurse Certification by the beginning of 2023. In her spare time, she loves spending time with her family and two young daughters and husband. She also enjoys being outdoors, fitness, and cooking.