Hospital Spotlight: Sparrow Clinton Hospital Works to Prevent Patient Falls

Posted on January 04, 2018

Hospital SpotlightPatient falls and fall-related injuries are a huge patient safety issue. According to The Joint Commission, hundreds of thousands of patients in the U.S. fall every year in hospitals, with 30 to 50 percent of falls resulting in injury.

Sparrow Clinton Hospital in St. Johns set out to achieve a record number of days with no injury due to an inpatient fall. Since May 2016, the hospital has recorded more than 600 days with no inpatient falls that resulted in injury.  

The focus on preventing falls and fall-related injuries in Sparrow Clinton Hospital is, in large part, due to a sentinel event that occurred in 2014. The incident sparked a cultural change within the organization and caused Sparrow Clinton Hospital staff members to alter processes and procedures hospitalwide to avoid a repeat occurrence of harm due to a fall.

Sparrow Clinton staff with poster raising awareness about fall prevention.As part of this cultural change, the organizational mindset shifted from “not all falls are preventable” to “all falls are preventable.” Staff became vigilant about all aspects of fall prevention and implemented several fall prevention practices, such as gait belts for each patient; proper education for the patient, their family and their caregiver; a minimum of a 1:1 ratio of caregiver-to-patient with ambulation and toileting; and regular toileting.

“We really focused on the importance of intraprofessional education, standardization of processes and tools for patient safety, complete adherence to the fall bundle, and investing in new equipment,” said Mariah Hesse, RN, BSN, CENP, director of patient care services, Sparrow Clinton Hospital. “We believe those items have been instrumental to our success.”

In addition, they have increased utilization of the Morse Fall Scale upon admission and on every shift. Any patient who scores 45 points or more is considered to be high risk. The facility also uses a falling star sign outside the patient’s room to alert all caregivers that the patient is at high risk for falls and they should make the direct caregiver aware of any needs.

Staff members celebrate successes and continually set new, loftier goals.

“Sparrow Clinton Hospital celebrates continuous days fall-free on the inpatient unit,” said Hesse. “Our first goal of 100 days fall-free was met, so we kept increasing the goal by 50. Our longest streak without an inpatient fall was 245 days. And, we always aim to personally thank everyone involved in the effort to keep patients safe.”

Preventing falls is often a difficult task. However, Sparrow Clinton Hospital has been successful in reducing falls due to the implementation of best practices and quality and safety improvements, as well as focusing on prevention efforts within the organization.

“Our overall goal is zero falls, and we believe it is possible to be fall-free when you are vigilant about patient safety,” said Hesse. 

This article was featured in the MHA Keystone Center Newsletter. To subscribe, please contact Ashley Sandborn, MHA Keystone Center communications specialist.


  • Hospital Spotlight: Sparrow Clinton Hospital Works to Prevent Patient Falls

Tags: MHA Keystone Center, Patient Safety and Quality

Posted in: Patient Safety & Quality

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