Your Education Guide to Resident Falls
Current Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) policy regarding falls includes:
A fall is defined as an unintentional change in position coming to rest on the ground, floor or onto the next lower surface.
An episode where a resident lost his or her balance and would have fallen, were it not for staff intervention, is a fall. In other words, an intercepted fall is still a fall.
The presence or absence of a resultant injury is not a factor in the definition of a fall. A fall without injury is still a fall.
When a resident is found on the floor, the facility is obligated to investigate and try to determine how he or she got there, and to put into place an intervention to prevent this from happening again. Unless there is evidence suggesting otherwise, the most logical conclusion is that a fall occurred.
The distance to the next lower surface (i.e., the floor) is not a factor in determining whether a fall occurred. If a resident rolled off a bed or mattress that was close to the floor, this is a fall.
That is why Briggs Healthcare and GuideOne Risk Resources for Health Care teamed together to develop a free Resident Falls Educational Guide filled with facts; information on prevention and responding to a resident fall; tools and references; and additional resources.
Quarterly Risk Management Tip
The Value of a Prompt Response
Despite your best efforts, it's impossible to please everybody all of the time. So, when receiving complaints about your facility, it is critical to respond promptly and to log the outcome. Although taken individually, few resident or family member grievances are serious, but the lack of a prompt response by management sends a negative message to family members and may lead them to view your facility as an adversary. Lack of action can motivate family members to seek other forms of resolution, such as logging a complaint with the state survey agency or even seeking legal action. While you may not be able to satisfy the individual on every grievance submitted, at least you are showing concern and good faith by responding promptly.