Advocate Christ Medical Center
Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn is one of the major Midwestern referral hospitals for several specialties, including cancer care; cardiovascular services; heart, kidney and lung transplantation; neurosciences; orthopedics; and women’s health. Ranked as one of the top 10 hospitals in Illinois by U.S. News & World Report, Christ Medical Center provides emergency care for more than 100,000 patient visits annually.
As manager of Clinical Operations in the Neurological Unit at Advocate Christ Medical Center, Darlene Trendl, MSN, RN-BC, fights gravity every day. It might seem absurd to resist something so inevitable, but with help from colleagues on the “falls team,” she and her staff are gaining ground.
Their goal is far more difficult than it might seem: preventing patients from falling.
Falls account for one of the leading safety concerns in hospitals worldwide. Any patient of any age or physical ability can be at risk for a fall due to a medical condition, medications, surgery, procedures, or diagnostic testing that can leave them weakened or confused.
Many times, falls occur when patients attempt to go the bathroom unassisted. Christ Medical Center staff determined that almost half of patient bathroom falls resulted in injury. The figure matches that in research by The Joint Commission, which also determined that the average cost of a fall with injury is $14,000.
“We understand that patients want privacy when using the bathroom, but don’t want to let that set back someone’s recovery,” Trendl said. “We need to be respectful yet keep them safe.”
Trendl and her staff determined changes needed to be made for at-risk patients. Using the Morse Fall Scale, that assesses a patient’s likelihood of falling, they implemented a written bathroom contract posted at patients’ beds and with signs in the bathroom. In some cases, the nurses proactively escort patients to their bathrooms every two hours, rather than wait until it becomes an urgent matter.
“Our goals were threefold: We wanted to decrease unattended bathroom visits, decrease falls and reduce injuries,” said Trendl. “We have already seen a decrease in the number of falls and a decrease in the number of injuries.”
Seeing a marked improvement in patient safety for falls, the team are determined to continue the momentum. Even if gravity is not on their side.