Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Term of the Day: Fall

Not the season between summer and winter, but rather what leaves do during that season.

FALL - an unintentional change in position resulting in coming to rest on the ground or a lower level

Man do I love these precise medical definitions. Absolutely correct, yet almost comically detached from everyday speech.

Falls are a big deal, especially in seniors, potentially causing serious injuries like hip breaks and concussions, or even death. So many factors can precipitate them, weakness, pain, environment, cognitive problems, medications, neuromuscular impairment, the list is long.

Prevention of falls is a huge nursing responsibility. And just as falls have many factors that increase risk, there are many preventative measures to consider. Considering just the patient's immediate environment in a hospital room requires thinking about condition of the bathroom and shower, their hospital gown, lighting, floor condition, footwear, suitability of chairs, bed height, bed wheels, and side rail position.

The standard when leaving a patient's bed is to lock the wheels, put the side rails by the head up, and lower the bed all the way down. Still, despite these precautions, tragedy can happen. Our aging teacher had our undivided attention when she showed us a couple drawings taken from photographs of patients that tried to get out of bed and died when they got tangled in their bed rails. Eeesh.


  1. I was at the health center this week, and as soon as the nurse practitioner pulled out her stethoscope I thought "AUSCULTATION." (Which is my favorite word of the day so far.)

    Thought you'd like to know.

    - Carole

  2. Awww, that's sweet. Thanks for letting me know.