Thursday, April 18, 2013 - Video Monitoring Prevents Patient Falls

Guerline Villard, CNA, observes patients from
the central monitoring station on a Medicine unit

In summer 2012, Greenwich Hospital took another step toward becoming the “Safest Hospital” with an innovative video surveillance monitoring program for patients who are at high risk of falling during their hospital stay.

To date, the program has benefited more than 750 patients and prevented 12,000 potential “fall opportunities.”

Since the program began, no patient falls have occurred in the video monitored rooms, which include 10 beds in the Medicine unit and 4 beds in Telemetry. The initiative is so successful that plans are underway to expand the program to 18 beds and officials from other Connecticut hospitals are visiting Greenwich to learn more about the best practice.

“We’re proud to have put in place a fall prevention initiative that has truly made a difference by having such a positive impact on our patients,” said Susan Brown, SVP/Patient Care Services and Chief Nursing Officer. “It’s a fabulous program.”

One million inpatient falls occur in hospitals nationwide, with one to three percent resulting in fractures. Those at most risk for falling include patients with a history of falling or wandering, impulsive behavior, impaired cognitive function or unsteady gait.

“But even those falls that don’t result in injury can cause distress for patients and families and can delay their rehabilitation,” said Priscilla Sterne, Nursing Administration, noting that the average age of monitored patients is 84 years old.

The video monitoring staff consists of specially trained certified nursing assistants who work as a team as one observes all 14 beds from a central monitoring station, while the other makes rounds to assist patients as needed. The two staff members switch roles every two hours to avoid “monitor fatigue,” explained Brown.

Staff viewing the monitors provide verbal instructions via an intercom into the patient’s
room – “Mr. Jones, we’ll be right there to help you use the bathroom” – and then notify the
rounding nursing assistant.

Staff can draw a curtain for personal care and procedures to ensure a patient’s privacy.

If a patient fails to respond to a verbal reminder, the video monitoring staff has the option to issue an overhead “fall alert” for immediate assistance.

Added Brown, “Any fall that we can prevent is significant in the longevity and quality of life for our patients.”

Learn more about Staying Safe in the Hospital >>