Prevention of falls in acute hospital settings: a multi-site audit and best practice implementation project
International Journal for Quality in Health Care
Objective: To assess falls prevention practices in Australian hospitals and implement interventions to promote best practice. Design: A multi-site audit using eight evidence-based audit criteria. Following a baseline audit, barriers to compliance were identified and targeted. Two follow-up audit cycles assessed the sustainability of practice change. Setting: Nine acute care hospitals around Australia, including a mix of public and private. One medical ward and one surgical ward from each
... l were involved. Participants: A clinical leader from each hospital, trained in evidence implementation, conducted the audits and implementation strategies in their setting. Interventions: Multi-component falls prevention interventions were utilized, designed to target specific barriers to compliance identified at each hospital. Common interventions involved staff and patient education. Main Outcome Measure: Percentage compliance with falls prevention audit criteria and change in compliance between baseline and follow-up audits. Fall rate data were also analysed. Results: Mean overall compliance at baseline across all hospitals was 50.4% (range 30.8-76.6%). At the first follow-up, this had increased to 74.5% (range 59.4-87.4%), which was sustained at the second follow-up (74.1%, range 48.6-84.4%). There were no statistically significant differences between compliance rates in medical versus surgical wards or in private versus public hospitals. Despite sustained practice improvement, reported fall rates remained unchanged. The focus on staff education possibly led to improved reporting of falls, which may explain the apparent lack of effect on fall rates. Conclusions: Clinical audit and feedback is an effective strategy to promote quality improvement in falls prevention practices in acute hospital settings.