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). Falls are not a natural part of aging and whether they happen at home or in health care facilities such as nursing homes or ambulatory surgery centers, the outcomes can be devastating.
The NCOA is a respected national leader and trusted partner to help people sixty and older meet the challenges of aging. Falls are a leading cause of injuries, some of which are fatal. Because patient safety is one of our core values, we support this effort and work daily with patients and facilities to minimize the risk of falls.
Falls statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- One-fourth of Americans aged sixty-five or older falls each year.
- Every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall; every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall.
- Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults.
- Falls result in more than 3 million injuries treated in emergency departments annually, including over 850,000 hospitalizations and more than 29,000 deaths.
- In 2015, the total cost of fall injuries was $50 billion.
- The financial toll for older adult falls is expected to increase as the population ages.
According to the NCOA, falls not only increase the likelihood of patient injury, they can also have a heavy toll on quality of life. Patients who have fallen or fear falling will often alter their routines out of fear. These altered routines often mean limiting activities or social interactions. This can lead to further physical decline, depression, social isolation, and feelings of helplessness.
Medication management can have a significant impact on fall prevention. There are many medications that greatly increase risk of falls, 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.
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 centers, senior 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.