It’s Fall Prevention Awareness Week

It’s Fall Prevention Awareness Week

It’s Fall Prevention Awareness Week and the OctariusRx team is recognizing and helping to spread the word from the National Council on Aging (NCOA). There are many factors that impact our risk of falls, but it’s important to remember that falling is NOT a normal part of aging. Join us the week of Sept. 18-24 in a nationwide effort to prevent falls among older adults.

Falls can happen to patients at home or in healthcare settings such as nursing homes or ambulatory surgery centers. Regardless of location, they can have devastating impacts on a patient’s health. This week we raise awareness for and give guidance on ways to minimize falls.

According to the NCOA, falls not only increase the likelihood of patient injury, but they can also take a heavy toll on quality of life. Patients who have fallen or fear falling will often alter their routines. These altered routines often mean limiting activities or social interactions. This can lead to further physical decline, depression, social isolation, and feelings of helplessness.

The effects of surgery, anesthesia, and pain medications can impact patients’ balance and mobility and can put them at increased risk for falling. Most falls are caused by a combination of risk factors. The more risk factors a person has, the greater their chances of falling.

What are some steps facilities can take to reduce fall risk?

  • Fall risk screening and assessment: falls are usually caused by multiple factors. There are many assessment tools available and it’s important to do a comprehensive screen. A proper screen should include a look at previous fall history, gait instability, urinary incontinence, agitation, and medications.
  • Patient specific plan: Base your fall prevention plan on the specific patient…don’t just categorize everyone as low, medium, or high fall risk. There is a big difference between a patient who is a fall risk due to gait instability versus one who is cognitively impaired.
  • Consistent prevention interventions: This requires ongoing communication among the healthcare team while in the facility and with the family for the transition to home. As the patient’s risk status changes, the healthcare team, patient and the family should be notified, and appropriate changes made.

Medications should always be considered and often greatly increase the risk of falls. As a result, proper medication management can have a significant impact on fall prevention. We are all familiar with some of the biggest offenders, such as benzodiazepines and opioids. Managing these medications appropriately can help increase patient safety and minimize risks. We recommend working with a consultant pharmacist who can provide a complete assessment and guidance on avoiding falls.

When working with patients, we assess their risks and guide them on ways to improve their safety. For those who want to get a head start, you can assess your risk of falling by using the Falls Free Checkup, provided by the NCOA. When working with facilities we evaluate processes along with policies and procedures to find areas of weakness and then provide guidance for quality improvement. Our goal is to keep patients safe and help facilities maintain regulatory compliance while reducing their liability and costs.

We are always thinking of patient safety but hope you will take this week to focus specifically on the risk of falls, whether personal or for the patients you serve. If we can help you in any way, contact us for a free consultation.

The Consultant Pharmacists at OctariusRx provide guidance on safe medication management, survey readiness and cost savings to ambulatory healthcare facilities/surgery centerssenior care facilities and pharmacies. We also help individual patients optimize their medications to improve their quality of life and save money. Contact us for assistance.

Any health, medical or drug information on the Web Site is for informational purposes only. This information is not intended to be used, and you should not use it, as a substitute for obtaining professional healthcare advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor, a pharmacist or other qualified healthcare provider for professional healthcare advice, diagnosis or treatment for any medical condition.