April Falls - it's no joke

5 April 2013


Preventing falls in hospital is everyone’s business.

That’s the message of this year’s April Falls promotion which got underway this week at Tairawhiti District Health (TDH)

Director of Nursing, Sonia Gamblen, said falls were an ongoing and serious cause of patient harm.

“We take patient safety very seriously and are doing all we can to prevent harm from falls,” she said. “Nobody wants a patient to have a fall while receiving health care.”

Ms Gamblen said TDH will mark April Falls month with a promotional display in Gisborne Hospital’s hospital entrance on 19 April. “We will also be providing our staff with refresher training about falls prevention throughout the month.”

Ms Gamblen said falls can cause suffering and sometimes death, as well as distress for their families/whanau or caregivers of the person who has fallen.  A fall-related injury often means a longer hospital stay and extra medical tests and treatment.  It is one of the main reasons patients are admitted earlier than expected to an aged residential care facility.

Between 2010 and 2012, a total of 200 people nationally fell while in hospital care and broke their hip.

“Many falls are preventable and it’s up to us all to make sure we work as a team to prevent harm from falls. Our staff are working hard to make sure every patient is assessed for their risk of a fall, care plans are developed with patients and family to help keep them safe on their feet, and we make sure the environment is safe.”

Older people are most at risk of falling.

Ms Gamblen encouraged people to discuss any concerns with their doctor or nurse, and to ask for help if they feel unsteady on their feet.

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need a hand,” she said.  “If you’re staying in hospital, it’s also important to make sure you know where the call-bell is by your bed and that you have everything that is important within reach, such as your glasses or walker. Staff will help keep the area around your bed clutter-free and make sure any spills are attended to so you don’t slip over.”

A national patient safety campaign being coordinated by the Health Quality & Safety Commission will be launched in May, focusing initially on reducing harm from falls.  Other areas of focus during the campaign will be healthcare-associated infections, medications and perioperative harm.


For more information

Kathy McVey, Communications Manager

Tairawhiti District health

06 869-0500 or 021 223-7094

More information about reducing harm from falls is available from the Commission’s website, www.hqsc.govt.nz.