Hospital Bed Alarm Use Not Effective Preventing Patient Falls: Study
Commonly used hospital bed alarms may not be as effective in preventing elderly patient falls as hospitals once expected, according to new research.
In a study published last month in the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers at the University of Florida outlined the findings of a randomized trial involving nearly 28,000 patients in general medical, surgical and specialty units, as well as 16 nursing units. The trial took place at the Tennessee Methodist Healthcare University involving the use of 350 bed alarms.
During the study, some patients were offered education and technical support information to promote the proper use of standard bed alarm systems. A control group was offered beds with the alarm system; but no education or information on use of the alarm was provided.
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The 18-month long trial found an increase in alarm use among the patients who were provided education on use; however, this did not lead to a decrease in the rates of fall injuries at hospital and nursing units among these same patients.
Bed alarm systems involve a plastic pad with sensors that detect weight placed underneath elderly patients in hospital and nursing home beds. The alarms are designed to emit a sound when a patient gets out of bed. This both alerts the hospital staff and is intended to remind patients to wait for help getting out of bed, when elderly patients are often experiencing dizziness or weakness. The bed alarm systems cost approximately $400.
According to Dr. Ronald Shorr, professor of epidemiology at the University of Florida and the study’s co-author, bed alarms do little to prevent injuries when used alone. He recommends staff training to help monitor at-risk patients more closely and to remind patients and families about fall risks.
Shorr also warned many alarms may sound improperly when a patient is not getting out of bed. This results in what he calls “alarm fatigue” and may also contribute to the lack of prevention in related falls.
Researchers concluded that while an increase in alarm use was shown, the use of bed alarms has no statistically or clinically significant effect on preventing falls and injuries in the elderly patients using the alarms.
Injury from falls are the leading cause of death for adults over the age of 65. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Emergency departments treat more than 2 million fall injuries every year. More than 25 percent of hospital falls result in some type of injury, while at least two percent of hospital falls result in further complications for the patient.
DonnaAugust 15, 2021 at 4:21 pm
I am being discharged from York Hospital within a few hours. I have never stood up or tried to go to the bathroom with out having someone from nursing. I asked for the bed alarm to be turned off and was told NO. I am perfectly lucid, am taking no sedatives and am perfectly stable using a walker. I'm not saying that I don't want help. Is it possible for me to sign a waver to have the alarm turned o[Show More]I am being discharged from York Hospital within a few hours. I have never stood up or tried to go to the bathroom with out having someone from nursing. I asked for the bed alarm to be turned off and was told NO. I am perfectly lucid, am taking no sedatives and am perfectly stable using a walker. I'm not saying that I don't want help. Is it possible for me to sign a waver to have the alarm turned off in situations like this esp. during the day.
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