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Hospital room design and patient falls

Some might assume that how a hospital room is designed is merely a matter of aesthetic concern. However, design can have practical implications on some significant issues. For example, a recent study indicates that hospital room design could have patient safety implications.

In the study, researchers had participants go through some common fall scenarios in a mock-up of a standard hospital room and bathroom (note: the participants were kept from actually falling). Motion capture technology was used to monitor the participants’ movements during the scenarios.

From a review of these movements, the researchers found that grabbing, turning, pulling and pushing were among the postures commonly connected to falls among elderly individuals. This suggests that design elements of a hospital room that could encourage these postures could have fall risk implications. Among the design elements the researchers found to be connected to these postures are: the bathroom door, bathroom path obstructions, the configuration of the bathroom, grab bars, IV pole design, the toilet seat and the toilet flush handle.

So, there are many different aspects of a hospital’s room design that could have the potential to influence the fall likelihood of patients. One wonders how closely hospitals here in Illinois are considering patient safety when it comes to their hospital room design.

One thing that this underscores is that a wide range of things could contribute to a patient fall at a hospital. How a hospital fall came about is not an insignificant issue. For one, it can impact a hospital fall victim’s legal situation. So, evidence on cause can play a big role in personal injury matters involving falls at hospitals.

Source: news-medical.net, “Hospital room design may be linked to patient safety, length of hospital stay,” Oct. 17, 2016

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