Treating Falls: It’s Fall Season! No, literally.

As a nurse, you’re no stranger to slips, tumbles, fumbles, bumbles, and “eating it.” As the warm weather chills out, it’s important to be prepared for those who “fall” victim to one of the most common autumn injuries, falls. Falls can happen everywhere, and not just in the kitchen or bathroom. We’re here to go over a few other places falls occur, as well as how to treat and prevent these falls.

Common Fall Culprits

Bathroom – Probably the most common places for a fall to occur, the bathroom accounts for a large portion of your patients’ fall injuries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year about 235,000 people over age 15 visit emergency rooms because of injuries suffered in the bathroom, and almost 14 percent are hospitalized. A wet floor is almost always the culprit; so don’t be surprised to hear from a few patients that have had post-shower tumbles.

Kitchen – Another big area that falls can occur is in the kitchen. A wet kitchen floor, broken class, or bumping into a chair are just a few of the ways injuries can occur. Make sure to stress to your patients the importance making sure they clean up any kitchen spills or broken glass.

The Outdoors – Whether it’s hiking along a local trail, jogging on the track, or just playing in the backyard, many falls can occur in the great outdoors. According to the CDC, hiking is actually the third most dangerous outdoor activity. With that being said, that doesn’t mean to stay indoors and fear the sun; it means that we must take safety precautions like hiking with a friend and carrying a cell phone to deter any hiking injuries.

The Hospital – Every year in the United States, hundreds of thousands of patients fall in hospitals, with 30-50 percent resulting in injury. Like it or not, falls can happen in your own hospital, and it’s important to be aware of them. Hospital falls on average, extend the length of stay by almost a week, and so learning how to prevent them and take care of your patient is key.

Preventing and Treating Falls

Awareness – One of the biggest ways to prevent a fall is to open your eyes. Sounds easy right? Well, unfortunately many falls result from unforeseen spills or objects resulting in a fall. Make sure your patients are aware of their surroundings, and urge your patients to take their time moving around, especially your elderly ones.

Footwear – Non-slip footwear can also help prevent falls at home or outside. Sneakers will give your patients better grip and balance to prevent those treacherous tumbles.

RICE – If you or your patient does suffer a fall, make sure to follow the RICE method. Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation has been a staple in treating a variety of bumps and bruises. This treatment can reduce swelling and bruising and will hopefully help your patient get back on his or her feet in no time.

Medical Attention – If an injury from a fall becomes too painful or debilitating, it might be time to seek medical attention. Make sure that your patient is attended to and assessed for any internal or head injuries. Head injuries are very common in treating falls and could have a lasting impact on your patient, so be sure a full assessment is performed. Treating falls will quickly become a daily routine as the temperature cools, so remember to stay on your feet!

Author: Troy Diffenderfer

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