Falls vs. Mobility: A False Dichotomy

May 3, 2017 | Strategic Insights for Health System


​Efforts to decrease falls in hospitals are unintentionally leading to an increase in immobility among older adults, and this does not need to be the case, say the authors of an April 24, 2017, viewpoint in JAMA Internal Medicine. Although hospitals should obviously strive to avoid injurious falls, the authors said, current prevention measures show a "troubling underlying assumption" that keeping patients from moving can reduce falls. In-hospital immobility, the authors said, is associated with an increased risk of functional decline, adverse events, and readmission. Additionally, some measures aimed at decreasing falls, such as bed alarms, are instead decreasing patient satisfaction. Patients say these alarms make them feel as if they are "in jail" or that they cannot go to the bathroom without permission.

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