Total Patient Falls

Why is this important?

Falls can affect anyone.  They are the most common cause of traumatic injury, especially among those more than 65 years of age, followed by motor-vehicle accidents.


Falls can be the cause of hospitalization or may occur during hospitalization for various reasons.  Those reasons include weakness and debilitation from one’s illness or side effects of medications causing orientation problems or even drowsiness.


Many patient falls result in no injury or only minor injury.  However, some falls can result in a serious injury, such as a fracture or laceration, requiring sutures and potentially prolonged hospital stays.  Falls substantially increase the costs of care.

How WellSpan Compares

There are two sets of benchmarks which York Hospital uses to compare itself with other health care providers.  One is a national benchmark equal to the median number of falls per 1,000 patient days.  That is the American Nurses Association’s (ANA) National Database on Nursing Quality Indicators (NDNQI) benchmarks based on category or types of nursing units: ICUs, Step-Down units, Medical or Surgical units per 1000 patient days for hospitals of the same bed size and/or teaching status; and, the other benchmark is the PA - VHA benchmark, which is based on the total number of in-patient falls of VHA member hospitals in Pennsylvania per 1,000 patient days, and which tracks similarly to the NDNQI medians.  In comparison to these benchmarks the York Hospital total fall rate for all in-patient falls, including the ED and Behavioral Health settings, has been below 3.5 falls /1000 pt days since mid-2006.


There are no nationally recognized or state benchmarks for fall rates of patients experiencing falls with injury.  However, WellSpan Health uses a fairly conservative internal benchmark of 0.5 injury falls per 1,000 patient days to compare monthly and year-to-date hospital rates.  While York Hospital rates tend to fluctuate from month-to-month and year-to-year depending upon season and patient census, the rates WellSpan experiences hover close to the benchmarks used for comparison.

Unit of Measurement: Percentage

A lower score is better than a higher score.

York Hospital result added on 12/31/2010
Gettysburg Hospital result added on 12/31/2010

What we are doing to improve our performance.

WellSpan Health has a comprehensive Falls Prevention Program, which includes both physical measures and Patient and Family education.  WellSpan has instituted a multi-disciplinary Falls Prevention Task Force with members from nursing, pharmacy, physical and occupational therapy and physician residents who see all patients experiencing a fall while under WellSpan’s care.


The team then recommends additional measures for the staff to help prevent a reoccurrence.


All health care providers must take an annual competency using a Computer Based Training (CBT) module to learn about fall prevention methodologies and all the components of the Fall Prevention Program.


These training programs serve to heighten awareness of the entire staff to recognize the potential risks of falling for patients who are identified to be “at-risk” of falling.


York Hospital patients considered at-risk of falling are asked to wear a “hot-pink” ID band to let all staff members know the patient may be at-risk and to be on the alert to prevent a fall from occurring.  Gettysburg Hospital uses yellow patient ID bands for patients at-risk of falling.