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The Hazards of Using Floor Mats as a Fall Protection Device at the Bedside

Doig, Alexa K. PhD, RN; Morse, Janice M. PhD (Nurs), PhD (Anthro), FAAN

Journal of Patient Safety: June 2010 - Volume 6 - Issue 2 - p 68-75
doi: 10.1097/PTS.0b013e3181cb439a
Original Articles

Objectives: In this study, we evaluated the clinical safety of the floor mat, a device intended to reduce severity of injury in falls from the bed or at the bedside.

Methods: Fifteen participants with a range of gaits and fall risk were video-recorded as they approached and entered a hospital bed and then as they exited and walked away. For 10 participants, a 1-inch-thick floor mat with a beveled edge was used as a fall protection device at the bedside. The videos were coded and analyzed for the purpose of determining the mechanisms by which the floor mat affected balance and gait while participants ambulated to and from the bed. Permission has been received from all patients.

Results: The bedside floor mat caused elderly patients with impaired and normal gaits to lose balance and, in some cases, stumble while ambulating onto the floor mat. Eight of 10 patients had difficulty exiting the bed because they placed their heels on the beveled edge of the mat closest to the bed, which shifted their center of gravity back as they were attempting to stand. Furthermore, walkers and mobile intravenous stands maneuvered onto the floor mat were unbalanced and unstable, further jeopardizing patient safety.

Conclusions: The bevel-edged, bedside floor mat is a potential hazard for ambulatory patients, especially those with impaired gaits, using walkers and pushing mobile intravenous stands.

From the College of Nursing, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Correspondence: Alexa K. Doig, PhD, RN, College of Nursing, University of Utah, 10 South, 2000 East, Salt Lake City, UT 84112-5880 (e-mail: alexa.doig@nurs.utah.edu).

This study was funded by Hill-Rom Industries safety program.

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.