A recent report by the State Claims Agency (SCA) entitled “ Slip/ Trip/Fall relating to Shower/ing: Events reported to the STARSWeb National Reporting System from the 1st January 2004 to 31st December 2009” shows that over 117,800 slips, trips or falls have been reported to the SCA in the six year period. This represents 38 % of all adverse events reported.
The SCA was set up under the National Treasury Management Agency (Amendment) Act 2000. Its purpose is to manage personal injury and property damage claims against certain State authorities.The SCA gathers data submitted confidentially by hospitals and other health facilities.This information is used to better identify where the dangers are in a bid to reduce the chances of the accidents re-occurring.
Of the fall events reported over 1 % (1,784) are concerned with fall events relating to patients showering.
The reports states that the top three incident types are:
Patients falling when moving without supervision
Patients falling from a chair
Patients falling when moving under supervision.
The report notes examples of occurrences to include falls as a result of loss of balance, problems with drainage system and problems with shower seats. A fall can result in a serious injury particularly for the elderly, however, the report notes that there were no events logged with an outcome inputted of fatality.
It is the responsibility of health care organisations to ensure equipment and facilities are safe and fit for the intended purpose. The policy of hospitals is to ensure that its patients, visitors and staff are, as far as reasonably practicable, provided with a safe and healthy environment.
What can we learn from this report? The report suggests that preventative maintenance programmes for health care facilities will be important in minimising risks. It is important to identify the risks, modify hazards and put in place fall prevention measures. Incident reporting is vital and is a useful tool in risk identification. However, to be effective the information collated should be used to minimise risks and prevent reoccurrences of incidences. Good housekeeping standards are essential to enable people to have confidence in their hospital.
For further information contact Robert Bourke or our Personal Injury unit.