PATIENT FALLS: Why do hospital patients fall?

American Hospital Association Resource Center Blog

Risk factors for causes of falls in hospital inpatients were studied in this comprehensive literature review.  Here are the risk factors that were identified as being significant in consistently predicting falls risk based on research studies:

  • Instability of gait
  • Weakness of leg(s)
  • Issues related to toileting — incontinence or need for assisted toileting
  • History of previous falls
  • Mental state — agitation or confusion or impaired judgement
  • “Culprit drugs” — especially centrally-acting sedative hypnotics.

The authors also examined the literature about the various falls risk assessment tools, but found little in the way of rigorous validation studies.

Source: Oliver, D., and others.  Risk factors and risk assessment tools for falls in hospital in-patients: a systematic review.  Age and Aging;33:122-130, 2004.  Click here for free full text from publisher:  Posted by AHA Resource Center, (312) 422.2050,

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