April Falls month focuses on reducing life-changing falls

4 April 2017

The latest fall statistics indicate serious injuries from in-hospital falls are still on the decrease, says the nurse who has lead the Reducing Harm from Falls campaign since the outset in 2013.

Sandy Blake, clinical lead for the Health Quality & Safety Commission campaign and Director of Nursing for Whanganui DHB said in 2015 nearly 26,000 people were admitted to hospital because of a fall.  "These are big numbers, and represent pain, immobility and inconvenience for a large number of people." 

But she said there was some good news as between 1 July 2013 and 31 December 2016, there were 85 fewer in-hospital falls resulting in fractured hips

New Zealand is thought to be the first country in the world on a national scale to reduce the number of in-hospital falls resulting in a broken hip, according to HQSC. This was brought home in a New Zealand Medical Journal article late last year which showed the number of falls occurring in public hospitals leading to broken hips had reduced by 40 per cent since December 2014.  And the number of falls in public hospitals had fallen for six consecutive quarters.

Blake said this reduction was important because hip fracture was the most common serious fall-related injury in those over 80 years old.

"Only half of those over the age of 80 who survive a hip fracture will walk unaided again, and many will not regain their former degree of mobility," said Blake. “Between 10 and 20 percent will be admitted to aged residential care as a result of the fracture. Very sadly, 27 percent of those over 80 will die within a year of their hip fracture.”

Since the Reducing Harm from Falls campaign got underway in 2013 the HQSC has also recorded an increase in the number of older patients assessed for their risk of falls in New Zealand hospitals from 77 per cent in the first quarter of 2013 to 91 per cent in June 2016.

Of those patients who were found to be at risk, 95 per cent were given an individualised care plan in June 2016, compared to 77 per cent in the first quarter of 2013. 

Falls month: Win a morning tea for your ward or workplace

 April Falls Month sees HQSC focus on falls prevention promotion including the annual display competition open to health care providers.

Providers who send in photos of their local April Falls displays and activities go into the draw to win a morning tea to the value of $100. 

The theme for this year's campaign is Stand Up to Falls that is focussing on keeping up New Zealand public hospitals record in reducing the number of in-hospital falls resulting in a broken hip.

Last year there were 21 entries from 12 providers and entries close this year on April 30 2017.  (Entries can be sent to gabrielle.nicholson@hqsc.govt.nz.)

 

Background: Falls in people aged 50 and over:

  • In 2015, 217,000 people aged 50 and over had one or more ACC claims for a fall-related injury accepted.
  • This was a significant increase from 170,000 claims in 2011. Claims varied 1.7-fold between DHB.
  • Of people aged 85+, 26 percent had at least one ACC claim due to a fall in 2015
  • This equated to 58 ACC claims per day among those aged 85+.
  • 25,800 people aged 50+ were admitted to hospital with a fall in 2015. Older people and women had higher admission rates.
  • Admission rates increased significantly with age: those aged 85 and over had 8 times more admissions than those aged 65–74 and 16 times more admissions than those aged 50–64 years.
  • 20,100 people admitted to hospital with a fall stayed more than a day.
  • This was 78 percent of all people attending hospital after a fall.

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