THE NUMBER of patients seriously injured in the county’s hospitals following falls has risen.
A total of 45 people suffered harm following a fall at the Alexandra Hospital, Worcestershire Royal or Kidderminster Treatment Centre during 2013/14, ten more than during the previous 12 months.
Five of those occurred in February with two on Ward 11 at the Alex which resulted in one patient suffering a fractured bone in their hand while another ended up with a fracture to their upper arm.
Overall there were 1,640 falls of all types, six per cent lower than the 1,746 recorded last year.
Measures being put in place include a review of bathrooms and toilets – areas where it is common for falls to occur – across all three sites and the creation of a unit specifically designed and staffed for frail, elderly patients is also being looked at.
Efforts are also being made to reduce the number of times patients are moved, which also puts them at an increased risk of falling.
Chief executive Penny Venables said the increase in serious falls was linked to the rising demand they were experiencing from frail, elderly patients.
“Because of the number of patients coming through and the speed we have to process them, there’s a higher turnover through A&E and the wards and we need better management of those patients who are frail elderly.” she said.
“Increasingly we are not dealing with 70 to 80-year-olds but 90 and 100-year-olds and all the things that go with that.”
Lindsey Webb, the Trust’s chief nursing officer, said the continuing problem discharging people effectively was an added factor.
“We know when patients do stay longer the risk of a fall is greater and we have had a number of falls in areas where patients are just waiting to go.” she said.
“You will never eliminate falls, and nor should they be because it would be an indication patients are staying in bed too long, but we have to do everything we can to reduce them.”
She added there was a renewed focus on encouraging staff to take individual responsibility for preventing falls.
“Rather than saying we have to have this piece of paper and tick a box, do that risk assessment, have that piece of equipment it’s about saying I’m a healthcare support worker on this ward this morning, I know there’s a risk, what can I do differently.”