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Patient Safety: Avoiding Slips & Falls

Accidents, like slips and falls, happen—especially in hospitals where patients are often weak and in an unfamiliar environment. In fact, falls are among the most common adverse occurrences reported in patients age 65 and older; and many of these injuries require a longer hospital stay.

At Yale-New Haven Hospital, we're committed to helping patients avoid slips and falls. We carefully monitor how often and why patients fall in the hospital. This information is used to make safety improvements. Each patient care unit has a designated "Fall Champion" who leads efforts and enforces policies aimed at preventing falls.

You can help prevent slips and falls too. Here's how:

  • Don't be embarrassed to ask for help. Try to call for help before your need becomes urgent.
  • Always ask for help from the nursing staff if you need to get out of bed or use the bathroom—especially at night or if you have an IV line
  • Keep your call-button near you, and don't be afraid to use it
  • When moving about, make sure there is enough light to see
  • If you use eyeglasses, keep them near you and use them you get out of bed
  • Never climb over bed rails
  • When getting out of wheelchairs or using a walker to stand up, make sure the wheels are locked
  • Wear slippers or shoes with rubber soles to prevent slipping
  • Let a staff person know about any fluids or objects on the floor that could cause a fall

"Ruby Slipper" Program

All patients admitted to our hospital are assessed to determine their chance of falling. Those identified "at risk" are given specific preventative instructions and assistance. This includes being asked to wear special red slipper socks so nurses and staff can easily identify—and assist—them. We call it our "Ruby Slipper" program.

Ask your nurse for more information.

For more information on fall prevention, visit:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention information on falls prevention.

Communication is Key

Many of the tactics and tips above rely on clear communication between you and your caregivers.

If you need help communicating, have a family member or friend listen with you when a diagnosis, treatment, test result or discharge plan is being explained. Translation services and hearing-impaired assistance are also available any time of day or night, at no cost to you.

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