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J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2006 Mar;7(3 Suppl):S53-8, 52.

Falls in the nursing home: are they preventable?

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1
UCLA Multicampus Program in Geriatrics and Gerontology, Los Angeles, CA, USA.

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

Falls are prevalent in elderly patients residing in nursing homes, with approximately 1.5 falls occurring per nursing home bed-years. Although most are benign and injury-free, 10% to 25% result in hospital admission and/or fractures. Primary care providers for nursing home residents must therefore aim to reduce both the fall rate as well as the rate of fall-related morbidity in the long-term care setting. Interventions have been demonstrated to be successful in reducing falls in community-dwelling elderly patients. However, less evidence supports the efficacy of fall prevention in nursing home residents.

METHODS:

The authors conducted a Medline search using the key words Falls and Nursing Homes.

RESULTS:

Several studies examined the efficacy of multifaceted intervention programs on reducing falls in nursing homes with varied results. Components of these intervention programs include: environmental assessment, assistive device evaluation and modification, medication changes, gait assessment and training, staff education, exercise programs, hip protector use, and blood pressure evaluation. Current literature supports the use of environmental assessment and intervention in reducing falls in nursing homes, and demonstrates an association between certain medications and falls. However, there are no studies that examine the effect of medication adjustments on fall rates. Also, the literature does not strongly suggest that exercise programs are effective in fall reduction. Although not effective in reducing fall rates, the use of hip protectors appears to result in less fall-related morbidity.

CONCLUSION:

More studies must be done to clarify the effects of high-risk medication reduction, the optimal nature and intensity of exercise programs, and patient targeting criteria to maximize the effectiveness of nursing home fall prevention programs. Based on the current literature, an effective multifaceted fall prevention program for nursing home residents should include risk factor assessment and modification, staff education, gait assessment and intervention, assistive device assessment and optimization, as well as environmental assessment and modification. Although there is no association between the use of hip protectors and fall rates, their use should be encouraged because the ultimate goal of any fall prevention program is to prevent fall-related morbidity.

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