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Geriatric Falls for the Inpatient Physician Translating Knowledge into Action Ethan Cumbler M.D. Associate Professor of Medicine Director UCH Acute Care For Elderly Services University of Colorado Anshcutz Medical Campus IMPACT 30-40% of people over age 65 will have a fall each year The percentage higher for patients who reside in nursing homes In an elderly patient who has fallen, the risk of having a second fall within a year rises to 60% 8% of all people over age 70 will present to the ER each year after a fall. 1/3 will be admitted Think about how many ED visits that creates…. Consequences Many falls cause minor or no injury. Skin tears and lacerations may require ED treatment but generally cause no lasting harm. Between 5 and 10% of community dwelling elderly patients who fall (up to 20-30% of elderly patients overall) will suffer a serious injury What injuries are particularly problematic? Injuries Hip Fractures-1% of falls in the elderly lead to hip fx 20-30% ¼ mortality in the year after hip fx to ¾ of patients do not recover prior level of ADLs Injuries Prolonged lie- 1/2 of elderly are unable to get back up Subdural Hematoma 2o rhabdo, dehydration/ARF, pressure ulcers What duration of unrelieved pressure does it take to create skin damage? What changes to the structure of the brain as patients age increase the risk of SDH? Rib Fractures Mortality 12% with 1-2 rib fx. Rising to 40% in patients with 7 or more fx Post Fall Anxiety Syndrome Self-limiting activity, worsening deconditioning, social isolation Picture the Geriatric Fall as a node on a decline spiral Probably not the first step in the decline Fall as symptom of underlying frailty Frequently will create a marked acceleration of decline photoeverywhere.com Risk Factors Prototypical Geriatric Syndrome Multifactoral More than 20 separate risk factors for falls have been identified. Very quickly how many can you think of? Risk Factors The factors interact in a dynamic and exponential fashion. 27% of patients with 0-1 risk factors will have a fall compared to 78% with >4 risk factors Unfortunately creating a list is not a particularly helpful exercise in practical patient care. Some of these risk factors are non-modifiable (female gender) and for others effective treatment seems limited (peripheral neuropathy). There are so many that it takes significant time just to recall them all. We are likely to always miss a few. A Brief Diversion… Jam In Malcolm Gladwell’s book on cognition “Blink”, he describes a fascinating psychology experiment. A sample table is set up at two grocery stores for customers to try a sample of jam. One table has 6 varieties of jams, the other has 24 selections. Which table do you think sold more jam? The table with only 6 varieties sold far more jam. This might seem counter-intuitive but the reason lies in the human psyche. Faced by too many choices, customers freeze up and make no decision at all. Why are you telling me about jam? “Multiple Alternatives Bias” In multi-factoral geriatric syndromes such as falls, physicians frequently treat only the sequelae of the fall Physicians faced with multiple possibilities unconsciously ignore some of them in order to make a list which, while incomplete, is at least more mentally manageable. Missing opportunity to intervene to prevent future injury The multiplicity of contributors seems overwhelming“possibility paralysis” A New Conceptual Framework We are going to break down the fall into its component parts Latent risk for fall Physiologic changes of aging Disease and medications Behavioral traits Environmental trigger- the “accident” Underlying frailty/vulnerability- the injury Each step will lead to concrete actions to reduce the risk of future injury! Postural Challenges Of Aging OPPORTUNITY FOR INTERVENTION ↓Baroreceptor Sensitivity ↓Balancefrom vestibular and proprioception ↓vision (esp night) ↓reflex speed for correction 5) Behavioral Measures (in supervised environment) Fall Risk Dehydration/diuretics Bp meds causing orthostasis Benzodiazepines Psychotrophics Anticholinergics Alpha antagonists Parkinsons Neuropathy Arthritis podiatry problems ↑impulsivity (esp in dementia) Behavioral Contributors 1) Physical therapy 2) Sensory Aids (glasses) 3) Ambulation/Gait Aids (4 prong cane, walker) 4) Review Medication list(remove problematic meds) Environmental Trigger “Accident” • • Bed Alarms for dementia with impulsivity Scheduled toileting Medications And Comorbidities 5) OT Home Safety Eval -rugs -lighting Fall Frailty Osteoporosis Decreased muscle speed to deflect injury INJURY -cords -rails 6) Calcium+Vitamin D/Bisphosphonate Bisphosphonate for prior frailty fx or known O/P Vitamin D level 7) Hip protectors? (uncertain benefit) Prevention of Future Injury Evidence suggests that for at-risk elders a multi-pronged targeted prevention strategy such as this can reduce the risk of future falls What about Tests? No specific laboratory or imaging testing is indicated in the absence of clinical correlation Vitamin D levels are recommended by some authors • Deficiency associated with falls as well as fractures If anemia or dehydration suspected, CBC and Chem7 reasonable Similarly, urinalysis, B12 levels and TSH are reasonable if driven by other clinical cues. Echo is only indicated if exam suggests valvular disease. In the absence of syncope, chest pain, or palpitations, EKG is low yield and holter monitoring not proven to be of benefit. Spinal or brain imaging is indicated only if neurologic findings on exam suggest lesion (or significant head injury from the fall) Inpatient Falls Falls with injury in the hospital are a JCAHO mandated reportable event How do you reduce the risk of an event which rarely occurs in the presence of the physician? Risk Assessment- Physicians How do we as physicians assess a patient’s risk for inpatient falls? For the most part, physicians pay little or no attention to this issue on a general medical ward. Reliable solutions require systems change. You can standardize a simple physician assessment for fall risk in elderly patients. Two- question falls screen: Have you fallen in the last month? Are you afraid of falling? You can perform a witnessed Get-Up-And-Go test Pay attention and you learn a lot of information about strength, balance, and gait in 30 seconds. WORKSHOP Using the example of a patient you have admitted in the last 48 hours, would you rate their risk of inpatient fall as low, moderate, or high? How do you think the nursing staff rated this patient’s fall risk? Where would you find the nursing assessment? What changes does the hospital system put in place for patients at moderate or high risk? What changes can we as physicians institute to reduce the risk of falls? SAMPLE CASE Risk Assessment-Nursing Hospital Fall Prevention Measures Triggered By A High Risk Patient What Changes Can You Make For The Patient Identified In Your Case Physician Measures to Reduce Hospital Falls Recognition of patients at increased risk should cause us to critically examine the orders we are writing which influence chance of inpatient falls. Review med list to determine if some medications should not be continued For instance, be more hesitant to allow zolpidem for sleep in the unstable patient with nocturia. Minimize Patient Tethers Heparin/LMWH instead of SCDs for DVT prophylaxis Early elimination of IV drips Early removal of urinary catheters Involve PT/OT/Assisted ambulation rather than independent ambulation for moderate+high risk patients Schedule toileting Thought Experiment If you were in charge of the hospital what systems changes would you put in place to reduce the risk of hospital falls or resultant injury?