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Post-fall assessments found to be inadequate for predicting future fall risk, according to study

In a study of 52 long-term care facilities located in Nova Scotia, Canada, researchers found that their post-fall assessments (PFAs) were not effective in determining residents’ future fall risk due to their administrative nature and lack of evidence-based documentation. The study was published in the Annals of Long-Term Care: Clinical Care and Aging.

Nearly all of the facilities included in the study (98%) reported that they use incident reports to document when a fall has occurred. Researchers concluded that in general, PFA reporting forms used in the participating facilities “lack the systematic rigor necessary to provide consistent information about falls and their causes. This limits their effectiveness as a means of fall prevention.”

Information documented in the reports that was consistent among most facilities included name of the resident, date and time of incident, description of the incident, whether or not the doctor was notified, and that the injury was observed. Lacking from many reports, however, with only 4% of facilities including the information was the environmental condition where the fall occurred, a neurological profile of the resident, and whether or not the resident was involved in a fall prevention program. 8% of facilities’ PFAs included information about whether the resident was restrained, and 6% included what footwear he/she was wearing.

Researchers also pointed out a disconnect between what data administrators believe their reports record, and what is actually recorded in real-time. They suggest that facilities make changes to their PFAs in order to prevent falls by including prompts for documentation that analyze fall risk factors, and that the reports become more user-friendly, systematic, and standardized.

The study reports that 95% of all hip fractures are caused by falls, and 25% of individuals who suffer a hip fracture die within five years of their injury.