Patient falls are one of the most reported adverse events, and a leading cause of injury among adults in inpatient settings. Patient falls are a serious healthcare problem that has a severe impact upon individuals, families, and healthcare systems. It leads to increased lengths of stay, higher number of malpractice lawsuits, and more than $4,000 in additional charges per hospitalization. On the patient level, a fall may result in injury and a fear of falling, which can lead to reduced mobility and eventually loss of function and further falls. Families and caregivers are also affected by patient falls as they hold the burden of caring for the patient.
Injury falls may result in fatal and non-fatal injuries ranging from minor lacerations to severe head injuries. About 30% of falls result in injury, disability, or death– particularly in older adults. Injury falls lead to as much as a 61% increase in patient-care costs and lengthen a patient’s hospital stay. It is estimated that by 2020 the direct and indirect costs of injuries related to falls will reach $54.9 billion. In addition injury falls are a significant source of liability for hospitals. In 2008, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) declared that it would no longer reimburse hospitals for costs of hospitalized patient falls, which increases the financial burden on hospitals. The financial burden of hospital falls is significant. It includes costs of care, length of stay, and legal liability. The costs of medical care for patient falls are high. Cost estimates vary across studies; however a single fall without serious injury can cost the hospital an average of additional $3,500. Falls with severe injury are the most costly for hospitals costing from $13,316 and up to $ 30,931 in additional expenses. Although staggering, these numbers underestimate the actual magnitude of inpatient falls. It continues to cost millions of dollars each year not to mention the intangible costs due to reduced quality of life for both patients and their caregivers.
~ Summarized from the National Quality Forum Form version 6.5; NQF Measure #0202
Montana & Peer Group Aggregate Baseline Report [February 2016]