The importance of falls prevention is something Lori Berger Hegyi knows all too well.
She describes the fall her husband Andrew had in 2013 while being treated as a nephrology patient at a downtown Toronto hospital as “a huge disruption in our lives.”
“My husband had a complicated medical history stemming from a head injury in 2001, which resulted in a history of delirium,” explains Lori, whose husband passed away in September 2017.
“One night he was confused and was trying to get up and get dressed to go home and he fell and hit his head and broke his ankle.”
Already a Patient Family Advisor (PFA) with Scarborough and Rouge Hospital’s (SRH) Nephrology department where her husband also received care, when Lori heard about the hospital’s new corporate Falls Prevention Committee, she knew she also wanted to participate as a PFA.
“I want to bring a patient’s perspective as someone who spent a lot of time with my husband in hospital after a fall, has seen a lot happen to him and other patients, and wants to find ways to improve.”
Residents of Scarborough for 23 years, Lori estimates she spent about $4,000 in gas and parking charges visiting her husband downtown over the seven months he was in acute care and rehabilitation hospitals. “As well, my hours at work were reduced so I had less income. And for someone with a brain injury the fall also had a big impact on my husband.”
“Falls prevention has been a high priority for our legacy organizations and is equally important for our newly-merged organization,” said Linda Calhoun, Vice President, Patient Services and Chief Nursing Executive.
“Our Falls Prevention Committee reports to the Corporate Quality of Care Committee and falls is a key indicator on the hospital’s Quality Improvement Plan and Quality and Safety Scorecard,” Linda said.
Kim Brophy, Director of Quality, Standardization, and Infection Control, adds that “falls that occur in hospital contribute to both physiologic and psychological injury, as well as increased length of stay, increased cost, and poor outcomes for patients.
“The new Falls Prevention Committee will help us to support the implementation of best practices to reduce falls, prevent injuries, and monitor our data for important trends we can address.”
SRH’s Falls Prevention Committee began meeting over the summer. Their most recent meetings have shown that the total number of falls and falls resulting in moderate or severe injury were less than what was seen earlier in the year.
“While the numbers of falls still vary month to month, we are headed in the right direction,” said Dr. Naresh Mohan, Interim Chief Medical Officer of SRH’s Centenary site and Chair of the hospital’s Medical Advisory Committee.
Dr. Michael Chapman, Interim Chief Medical Officer of SRH’s Birchmount and General, agrees, stating that the hospital is “starting to see some early gains from the quality improvement work and implementation of best practices on the pilot units.”
Lori adds that she has “really been impressed with how seriously falls are being regarded in these committee meetings.”
“The hospital understands there’s an issue and is committed to changing it and improving.”