Strategies for Preventing Patient Falls


Between 700,000 and 1 million people fall each year in U.S. hospitals, and about a third of those result in injuries that add an additional 6.3 days to hospital stays, according to a report from the Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare. Some 11,000 falls are fatal. The Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare has now issued a report on the subject called “Preventing Patient Falls: A Systematic Approach from the Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare Project.”1

“We try to pick those topics that healthcare organizations just haven’t been able to fully tackle even though they’ve put a lot of time and resources into trying to fix them,” says Kelly Barnes, MS, a center project lead in the Center for Transforming Healthcare at The Joint Commission.

The Joint Commission project involved seven hospitals that used Robust Process Improvement, which incorporates tools from Lean Six Sigma and change management methodologies, to reduce falls with injury on inpatient pilot units within their organizations.

During the project, each organization identified the specific factors that led to falls with injury in their environment and developed solutions targeted to those factors. The organizations identified 30 root causes and developed 21 targeted solutions. Because the contributing factors were different at each organization, solution sets were unique to each. Afterward, the organizations saw an aggregate 35% reduction in falls and a 62% reduction in falls with injury.

“One of the takeaways is that you really need support across an organization to have success,” Barnes says. “The more engaged the entire organization is from top down all the way to the bottom, the more successful people are in solving the problems.”

The study resulted in a Targeted Solutions Tool (TST), free to all Joint Commission–accredited customers, to help hospitals.

“You can put your data right into the tool,” Barnes says. “It tells you what your top contributing factors are, and it gives you the solutions that have worked for those contributing factors at other organizations.”


Health Research & Educational Trust. Preventing patient falls: a systematic approach from the Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare project. Hospitals in Pursuit of Excellence website.

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