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Center reduces falls with lift champion, ergonomics
A comprehensive program of education and changes in procedures has virtually eliminated falls at a surgery center in California. The leaders of the effort say their experience shows that reducing falls requires an approach that touches on all aspects of the problem.
The effort began in March 2006, with staff training started in June. There has been no patient fall in the year since the program began, says Jeanne Linda, RHIT, CPMSM, CPHQ, director of medical staff services/quality review at San Leandro (CA) Surgery Center. The falls at the surgery center never were higher than typically found in other surgery centers, but recent nationwide efforts at improving patient safety spurred staff at the center to look for ways to reduce injuries from falling, she says.
"Additionally, at the same time the staff was learning to reduce patient falls, they were also learning to protect themselves and avoid back injuries," Linda says. "Some of the resources we provided, like the transfer belts, helped make them more comfortable and confident that they could move patients without hurting themselves."
There has been no employee back injury since the program began, Linda says. She worked closely with Carol Bowen, RN, director of the center's post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) to investigate past falls at the facility and determine what might learned from them.
The investigation revealed a few intriguing points:
Linda notes that leadership was involved in the investigation and supported the effort, including providing time and resources for those involved. "One of the things we realized was that we were not providing uniform training for all our staff on fall prevention. So leadership said maybe's time to go outside the organization to bring someone in to train the staff," she says. "Adding an ergonomic specialist from outside was a big part of the program."
Ergonomic specialist called in
This is what the surgery center did to reduce falls:
keep post-op patients safe
These are some of the key fall prevention tips taught to the staff at San Leandro (CA) Surgery Center:
Staff were required to pass a competency examination in the appropriate skills. Training all of the staff took two days.
"It's a small thing, but people think it's fun," Linda says. "It's a little way to let them know we've noticed they're doing the right thing, and we appreciate it."
For more information on the San Leandro effort to reduce falls, contact: