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Why Hospital Falls Are So Expensive: Cost of Patient Falls

MedSitter Staff Aug 30, 2022 11:03:40 AM

The cost of patient falls is high for everyone involved. However, almost one-third of falls can be prevented - with MedSitter remote patient observation.


A safe hospital stay is a reasonable expectation when admitted to a hospital. However, things don’t always go as planned. One of the biggest issues with hospital stays is patient safety—in particular, patient falls. A fall may result in fractures, lacerations, or internal bleeding, leading to increased health care utilization. However, research shows that close to one-third of falls can be prevented (Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality). And that prevention is exactly where remote patient observation comes in.

How much does a fall cost?

Falls have been deemed a “never event” by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (Source: Agency for Healthcare Research Quality), which means that reimbursement for patient falls in severely limited. However, every year, 700,000 to 1,000,000 patient falls occur in US hospitals with roughly 250,000 of those falls leading to injury (Source: NCBI). Of those patients who fall, 30%-35% will sustain an injury, and each injury, on average, adds more than six days to a patient’s hospital stay. (Source: Market Scale). That adds up to an average cost of a fall with injury to more than $14,000 per patient. (Source: Market Scale). So the question is, how do these falls happen? And what can we do to prevent them?

How do falls happen?

No one enters a hospital expecting to sustain further injury. That being said, both intrinsic and extrinsic factors can lead to patient falls. Intrinsic factors include advance age, muscle weakness, poor vision, postural hypotension, arthritis, stroke, Parkinson’s, dementia, and more. Extrinsic factors include poor lighting, obstacles & tripping hazards, slippery or uneven surfaces, and psychoactive medications. (Source: CDC).

Patient falls can happen even when the greatest of precautions are taken. Patients can get caught in their lines or tubes while trying to get up, or have dementia and try to get up when they shouldn’t. Studies have shown that a multifactorial fall prevention program is the most effective in lowering patient fall rates, (Source: NCBI) with patient observation playing a significant role. Let’s look at how exactly MedSitter can help reduce patient fall rates across the board.

How do we stop inpatient falls?

The best way to reduce inpatient falls, is to stop those falls before they happen with a remote observation system like MedSitter. With remote observation, patient observers are trained to help prevent adverse events. With an observer, a patient is never truly alone. If they enter a dangerous situation, an observer is there to re-direct them or alert onsite medical staff.

Historically, if a patient was at high risk of injury, a 1:1 sitter would be assigned to them. This is both invasive and requires significant staff resources. In contrast, remote observers are unobtrusive, and are less demanding on hospital staff. It is easy for a patient to forget that they are under continuous remote observation and can thus settle in and feel more comfortable during their stay. Since remote observers can monitor more patients at one time, there are more opportunities for patients at all risk levels to benefit from observation. Overall, there is more capacity for observation which means more patients can be kept safe.

If you are interested in installing MedSitter in your healthcare facility, visit our Contact Us page now.

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