The results of a patient’s fall in a hospital, nursing home, or rehabilitation facility can be devastating or worse—it can be deadly. However, there may be ways to prevent some patients who are at risk of falling from getting hurt or dying. Before a fall and resulting death can be prevented, the risk of falling must be accurately assessed and a plan must be developed to prevent a patient’s fall.

The Morse Fall Scale Is One of the Tools Available

The United States Department of Health and Human Services recommends the use of the Morse Fall Scale as a way to identify which patients may be at risk of falling and, perhaps more importantly, the specific risk factors for those patients. If the specific risk factors are known, then appropriate plans can be put in place to reduce an individual’s risk of falling.

The current Morse Fall Risk Assessment asks six questions and attaches a point value to each answer. It is as follows:

  1. Is there a history of the patient falling?

Yes – 25 points

No – 0 points

  1. Does the patient have a secondary diagnosis (or more than one medical diagnosis in his or her chart)?

Yes – 15 points

No – 0 points

  1. Does the patient use an ambulatory aid?

Furniture – 30 points

Crutches/cane/walker – 15 points

No aid/bed rest/nurse assist – 0 points

  1. Is the patient receiving intravenous therapy or heparin lock?

Yes – 20 points

No – 0 points

  1. How is the patient’s gait?

Impaired – 20 points

Weak – 10 points

Normal/bed rest/wheelchair – 0 points

  1. What is the patient’s mental status?

Overestimates or forgets limitations – 15 points

Oriented to own ability – 0 points

What These Numbers Mean

Once the Morse Fall Risk Assessment has been completed then it must be scored. A patient who scores under 25 points is considered to be at low risk of falling, a patient who scores between 25–45 points is considered to be at moderate risk of falling, and a patient who scores higher than 45 points is considered to be at high risk of falling.

Hospitals, nursing homes, and rehabilitation facilities should use this information to protect each patient’s safety. For more information about preventing serious or deadly falls in Louisville area hospitals, nursing homes, and rehabilitation facilities, please browse the free library articles and FAQs available on our website and start an online chat with us today if you have been hurt or if you have lost a loved one in a fall.
 

Mark K. Gray
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Louisville attorney serving the seriously injured in Kentucky

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