Background: Falls are a common problem among hospitalized patients, having a significant impact on quality of life and resource utilization.
Objectives: To develop and validate a fall-risk assessment tool for patients hospitalized in the department of medicine that will combine simplicity with adequate accuracy for routine use.
Methods: This observational cohort study was conducted on the medical wards of an urban tertiary teaching hospital, and included all patients who fell in the medical wards during a 1 year period (n=140) compared to other hospitalized patients.
Results: Significant correlates of falls were previous falls, impairing medical conditions, impaired mobility, and altered mental state. In multivariate logistic regression analyses, only previous falls (odds ratio 3.8 with 95% confidence interval 2.65–5.45, P < 0.0001) and acute impairing medical conditions (OR 1.56, CI 1.06–2.29, P < 0.05) correlated independently with a higher risk for falls. Impaired mobility retained an OR of 1.46 (CI 0.95–2.24, P = 0.084). Accordingly, defining patients with either a history of previous falls or both acute impairing medical state and impaired mobility as fall-prone patients provided a sensitivity and specificity of 67% and 63%, respectively. In a subsequent prospective validation trial on 88 patients who fell during hospitalization and 436 controls, the sensitivity and specificity of this fall-risk grouping were 64% and 68% respectively.
Conclusions: Our new simple and easy-to-use fall-risk assessment tool identified most of the fall-prone patients. These findings suggest that using this tool may enable us to prevent two-thirds of falls on the medical ward by providing effective fall-prevention facilities to only one-third of the patients.