A child can accidently fall anytime — at home, on the playground, on the sidewalk, in the grocery store. But when a child falls in the Hospital or at one of our 50 CHOP Care Network sites, we take it personally.
The vast majority of falls cause no injury or a little bump or bruise, but a more serious fall can complicate the child’s previous condition, require an Emergency Department visit, lead to additional tests or delay discharge from the Hospital — which no one wants.
“Kids are active, and they can fall anywhere,” says Kim DiGerolamo, RN, MSN, PCNS-BC, who is working to prevent inpatient falls. “But when they’re at CHOP, they’re under our care. We want to prevent as many falls as possible.”
That’s why fall prevention has become a priority patient safety issue for children in the Hospital and those visiting any of the 50 CHOP Care Network locations.
You may have noticed signs in your CHOP pediatrician’s office as reminders of simple things you can do to ensure your children don’t fall, such as making sure they sit (not stand) on waiting room chairs and keeping them off the exam table until the nurse or doctor is ready to see them. Staff will point out these safety tips when you arrive.
If your child is in the Hospital, you may receive a handout from your nurse explaining specific fall risks for patients your child’s age and what you can do to help prevent a fall. There is also a short new video that highlights how to limit common risks.
“The video and tip sheets act as reminders for parents,” says family consultant Darlene Barkman, who added the family perspective to the projects. “Inpatient stays can be so stressful and exhausting for parents. They might not think that leaving the crib rail down is a big deal. But if the parent falls asleep and the 3-year-old wakes up, he just might try to climb out and fall.”
You can also find helpful tips from the Kohl’s Injury Prevention Program at CHOP to prevent falls at home.
We’re proud that CHOP’s fall prevention programs have been nationally recognized as best practices for other hospitals and doctor’s offices to follow. But what’s more important is that because of the partnership between staff and families, children are safer — and that’s the ultimate goal.