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Preventing Falls in the Hospital

Topic Overview

During a hospital stay, you may have a higher-than-normal risk of falling.

You might get medicines that make you dizzy and more likely to fall.

You may get weak and confused because of illness, surgery, or treatments, and you may have a hard time getting out of bed. And things like crutches, bandages, or being connected to intravenous tubing can affect how well you can walk.

If you and your family know that you have a risk of falling, you can plan ahead. Talk to doctors and nurses about helping you avoid falls. Ask your doctor if working with a physical or occupational therapist would help you prevent a fall.

Don't be afraid to ask for help, even with minor things. If you or a family member or friend sees a safety hazard, make sure to point it out to the hospital staff.

How can you help prevent a fall?

  • When you go to the hospital, bring nonskid socks, slippers, or shoes that stay securely on your feet. If you don't have these, ask the nurse for a pair of nonskid socks.
  • If you use a walker or cane at home, bring it with you or ask the hospital to provide one during your stay.
  • Tell your doctor or nurse if medicines make you dizzy or if you feel weak or lightheaded. If you feel this way, don't try to get up on your own. Call the nurse for help.
  • If you are on crutches or have other problems that make walking difficult, call the nurse for help getting out of bed. Don't try to do it on your own until you feel confident.
  • Before getting out of bed, sit up first and count to 10 before you stand up.
  • If you regularly wear eyeglasses, make sure to put them on before you get out of bed.
  • If you need help getting to the bathroom, call the nurse before it becomes urgent. If you are getting fluids through an IV, you may need to go to the bathroom more often.

What should the hospital do?

  • Your phone, the nurse call light or button, and any devices you need to help you walk should be within your reach.
  • Your bed should be low enough so that you don't have problems getting out of bed. The wheels on your bed should be locked so the bed doesn't move.
  • Your nurse should leave the side rails of the bed down, unless there is a concern for your safety.
  • Your nurse or doctor will tell you what you can safely do and how often you need to get up and move around.
  • Your room should be free of spills or slippery areas, and there should be no obstacles in your path to the bathroom or hallway.
  • Your room should have adequate lighting. Make sure there is a night light in your bathroom.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Last Revised December 18, 2012

Last Revised: December 18, 2012

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