Injurious falls remain among the most common, dangerous, and costly adverse events in hospitals, despite the widespread implementation of fall prevention programs. Many current health care system policies and nursing practices oversimplify fall prevention by focusing on limiting the person’s mobility and making the environment safer, or simply documenting a fall risk score. But most falls are caused by factors intrinsic to that individual; merely limiting their mobility can increase preventable hospital complications and readmissions, and still leaves them at risk for falls. This article proposes a new approach to reducing injurious falls in older adults—one grounded in evidence-based protocols known to positively impact the health of older adults.
The approach, called by the acronym ERA—Electronic health record integration, Risk factors that matter, Assessment and care plans—allows nurses to use a validated fall risk assessment tool to reframe fall risk factors as part of the comprehensive care plan, and to map modifiable risk factors to interventions that address the underlying causes of falls and promote safer mobility. The ERA approach can help nurses use their time more effectively by focusing on targeted actions that improve patient outcomes, working in coordination with an interprofessional, cross-continuum care team.