References - Patient Falls

References are listed alphabetically.

Don't Fall for It - Brochure


According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a fall is defined as being "an event which results in a person coming to rest inadvertently on the ground or floor or other lower level".World Health Organization. Definition of a Fall [on-line]. Available 3/8/2011 at:

Limitations of data

Comparing fall rates between different hospitals can be helpful, but there are some limitations to the data. Using a falls rate as a percentage of patient days helps us compare our performance, but other difficulties may include:

  • Different hospitals may define a 'fall' in different ways; some include "near misses or near falls" while others stick strictly to the WHO definition.
  • Staff may not report or document all falls that occur. Alternatively, sometimes a patient tells a staff member that they have fallen, but no one has witnessed this. This may result in some under or over reporting of fall rates.
  • Some organisations only collect data on first falls, but not subsequent falls. This can result in lower fall rates.
  • Hospitals admit different types of patients and the rate of falls can differ depending on whether the patient is admitted (for example) for surgery, mental health treatment, intensive care or rehabilitation. This can lead to different falls rates.

The Australian Institute for Health and Welfare reports that the rate of falls resulting in harm is higher in public than in private hospitals:

"other Australian hospitals"

Falls rate is taken from ACHS Clinical Indicator, Hospital-Wide 4.1 Inpatient Falls. Benchmark rate taken from from general aggregate rate for the most recent 6-month measurement period.

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