Inpatient falls are common and remain a great challenge for the NHS. Falls in hospital are the most
commonly reported patient safety incidents, with more than 240,000 reported in acute hospitals and
mental health trusts in England and Wales every year (that is over 600 a day). All falls, even those that
do not result in injury, can cause older patients and their family to feel anxious and distressed. For those
who are frail, minor injuries from a fall can affect their physical function, resulting in reduced mobility,
and undermining their confidence and independence. Some falls in hospital result in serious injuries,
such as hip fracture (more than 3,000 per year) and serious head injuries, and these injuries can result in
death. Falls in hospitals are financially expensive, as they increase the length of stay and may require
increased care costs upon discharge. In 2007, inpatient falls were thought to cost trusts alone £15
million, and will be more expensive now.
Tackling the problem of inpatient falls is challenging. There are no single or easily defined interventions
which, when done on their own, are shown to reduce falls. However, research has shown that multiple
interventions performed by the multidisciplinary team and tailored to the individual patient can reduce
falls by 20–30%. These interventions are particularly important for patients with dementia or delirium,
who are at high risk of falls in hospitals.