Although attention to patient safety issues in the home care setting is growing, few studies have highlighted health system–level concerns that contribute to patient safety incidents in the home. Found-on-floor (FOF) incidents are a key patient safety issue that is unique to the home care setting and highlights a number of opportunities for system-level improvements to drive enhanced patient safety.
We completed a multi-incident analysis of FOF incidents documented in the electronic record system of a home health care agency in Toronto, Canada, for the course of 1 year between January 2012 and February 2013.
Length of stay (LOS) was identified as the cross-cutting theme, illustrating the following 3 key issues: (1) in the short LOS group, a lack of information continuity led to missed fall risk information by home care professionals; (2) in the medium LOS group, a lack of personal support worker/carer training in fall prevention led to inadequate fall prevention activity; and (3) in the long LOS group, a lack of accountability policy at a system level led to a lack of fall risk assessment follow-up.
Our study suggests that considering LOS in the home care sector helps expose key system-level issues enabling safety incidents such as FOF to occur. Our multi-incident analysis identified a number of opportunities for system-level changes that might improve fall prevention practice and reduce the likelihood of FOF incidents in the home. Specifically, investment in electronic health records that are functional across the continuum of care, further research and understanding of the training and skills of personal support workers, and enhanced incentives or more punitive approaches (depending on the circumstances) to ensure accountability in home safety will strengthen the home care sector and help prevent FOF incidents among older people.