Hospitalized patient falls are a major cause of disability, functional impairment, and even death. The objective of this prospective study was to assess the frequency and contributing factors of falls in hospitalized patients.
Between December 2004 and November 2005, data related to falls in hospitalized patients were recorded: patient demographics, the patient's functionality, mental status, surrounding circumstances, and the level of injury. Outcome measures were overall rates of patient falls as a function of ward, shift, month, age, and incidence rate ratios (IRRs).
Falls were recorded in 611 patients. The overall patient fall rate was 4.36 (95% confidence interval, 4.02 to 4.72) per 1000 patient-days. The fall rate was significantly above the mean for the neurosurgical (IRR = 2.32; P < 0.001) and short-stay wards (IRR = 1.69; P = 0.013). Patients aged 56 to 70 years or older than 70 years fell 1.45 and 1.78 times more frequently, respectively, versus patients aged 55 years or younger (P < 0.001). The odds that a fall resulted in injury were multiplied by 1.19 for each additional decade of age (P = 0.018), and the age-adjusted injury rate for the oncology ward (46.4%) was significantly higher than the overall average (P = 0.001).
Age and the patient condition before and during hospitalization resulted as the most important determinants of falls in hospitalized patients.