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Preventing In-Hospital Newborn Falls: A Literature Review

Matteson, Tara MS, RN, CBS; Henderson-Williams, Audery MS, RN; Nelson, Jessica DNP, RN

MCN: The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing: November/December 2013 - Volume 38 - Issue 6 - p 359–366
doi: 10.1097/NMC.0b013e3182a1fb91
Feature: CE Connection

In-hospital newborn falls are arguably one of the most underresearched and underreported issues for organizations that care for newborn patients. From the few published statistics of in-hospital fall rates, we know that perhaps 600 to 1,600 newborn falls occur annually. Many of these falls can result in injury or even death of the newborn, legal issues for the institution, and severe emotional stress to the caregiver(s) and parents. Therefore, we searched the literature to ascertain causation and associated risks associated with in-hospital newborn falls. This is an important issue for nurses to understand because not only can the newborn be harmed due to a fall, but the actual newborn fall can also elicit strong feelings of guilt and culpability in the caregiver(s). This article reviews the literature to examine what is known about the factors associated with in-hospital newborn falls, to explore prevention measures, and to present best practices for how to adopt safe-sleep policy to prevent newborn falls.

It happens far more often than you might think. What do you know about how often newborns fall, or how to prevent falls?

Tara Matteson is a Nurse Educator for University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Passavant, PA, and an Adjunct Instructor for Indiana State University, IN. She can be reached via e-mail at

Audery Henderson-Williams is a Clinical Coordinator, DeKalb Medical Center, GA.

Jessica Nelson is a Chairperson and Assistant Professor at Indiana State University, Terre Haute IN.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

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