New data from the Health Quality & Safety Commission show the number of people falling in hospital and breaking their hip is reducing. There were 64 falls in hospital leading to a broken hip in the 12 months to December 2015 – down from 95 in the baseline 2012 year.
The Commission’s clinical lead for the Reducing Harms from Falls programme, Sandy Blake, says this trend is extremely encouraging, and testament to the commitment shown by district health boards (DHBs) and other providers to reducing harm from falls.
‘Falls among older people can be extremely debilitating – and it is particularly distressing when they occur in a care setting like a hospital. However, many can be prevented through a combination of awareness and individualised care.
‘For example, involving patients and their families and whānau in falls risk assessments when an older person enters hospital can reduce falls. Having safe footwear, an uncluttered ward, and the appropriate and safe use of bedrails and other walking equipment are also important.
‘Nationally, 92 percent of older people were assessed for their falls risk when visiting a hospital in the September to December 2015 quarter. This is a very good result. It has been at this level since the October 2014 quarter, which is very encouraging.’
Sandy Blake says the reduction in in-hospital hip fractures has saved around $2.1 million in the last 12 months alone. This figure includes the cost of a longer hospital stay, and also considers the additional cost of diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation.
April marks the start of the annual April Falls campaign, which is being promoted by the Commission, DHBs and others.
Sandy Blake says the messages in April Falls aren’t just for health professionals – families and whānau have a role to play as well.
‘Falls prevention is everyone’s business – from the individual, to the family and whānau, to a wide range of health professionals – hospital doctors and nurses, other hospital staff, community health providers, GPs, practice nurses, and physiotherapists and other allied health workers.
‘If we all play our part we can have a significant role in reducing the number of in-hospital falls, and the impact they have on the lives of loved ones.’
On 1 April, the Commission is also releasing information about falls in the community, which can be found here.
 Based on an NZIER-estimated $47,000 cost per broken hip associated with a fall during a hospital stay.