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Bed alarms don't prevent patient falls, alarm fatigue to blame

Patient falls remain one of the most common risks in hospitals in the U.S. Despite hospitals using bed alarms and other systems that try to prevent falls, hospitals have not been able to reduce falls that often result in injuries or complications for patients.

A recent study by the University of Florida found that bed alarms do not reduce patient falls in hospitals, especially when bed alarms are the only safety precaution a hospital takes to reduce falls. The study said that the main reason bed alarms don't work is due to "alarm fatigue." The study's researchers described alarm fatigue as nurses and hospital staff becoming desensitized or unaware when a bed alarm is going off because they have become so used to the sound.

Alarm fatigue can be very dangerous in hospitals and has contributed to many patient falls around the country. The study found that on average, two percent of hospital patients fall during their stay every year. Of the patients who fall, a quarter of them cause patient injuries and two percent cause complications in patients.

While alarm fatigue and the use of bed alarms makes hospital patients more susceptible to suffering an injury or complication if they fall, the study did provide some tips on ways hospitals can increase patient safety.

The study said that hospitals can prevent patient falls by using bed alarms with other safety precautions and prevention measures. This includes ranking patients based on their fall risk and assigning appropriate rooms and staff to take care of these patients.

Patients have the right to feel safe while being treated in a hospital. It is the hospital's responsibility to ensure that patients are receiving safe and appropriate care. This is includes taking proactive measures to increase patient safety and reduce the risk of patient falls.

Patients who have been injured or suffered a complication after a hospital fall should consult a medical malpractice attorney to discuss their specific case and what action may be pursued against the hospital if negligence caused the fall.

Source: Fierce Healthcare, "Preventing patient falls more valuable than bed alarms," Karen Cheung-Larivee, Dec. 14, 2012

A law firm can help patients who have been injured or suffered a complication due to negligence. To learn more about our law firm, please visit our hospital negligence page.

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