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Keywords:

  • accidental falls;
  • hospital;
  • cluster randomized controlled trial;
  • injury

OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the efficacy of a policy to introduce low-low beds for the prevention of falls and fall injuries on wards that had not previously accessed low-low beds.

DESIGN: This was a pragmatic, matched, cluster randomized trial with wards paired according to rate of falls. Intervention and control wards were observed for a 6-month period after implementation of the low-low beds on the intervention wards. Data from a 6-month period before this were also collected and included in analyses to ensure comparability between intervention and control group wards.

SETTING: Public hospitals located in Queensland, Australia.

PARTICIPANTS: Patients of 18 public hospital wards.

INTERVENTION: Provision of one low-low bed for every 12 on a hospital ward, with written guidance for identifying patients at greatest risk of falls.

MEASUREMENTS: Falls and fall injuries in the hospital measured using a computerized incident reporting system.

RESULTS: There were 10,937 admissions to control and intervention wards combined during the pre-intervention period. There was no significant difference in the rate of falls per 1,000 occupied bed days between intervention and control group wards after the introduction of the low-low beds (generalized estimating equation coefficient=0.23, 95% confidence interval=−0.18–0.65, P=.28). The rate of bed falls, falls resulting in injury, and falls resulting in fracture also did not differ between groups. Some difficulties were encountered in intervention group wards in using the low-low beds as directed.

CONCLUSION: A policy for the introduction of low-low beds did not appear to reduce falls or falls with injury, although larger studies would be required to determine their effect on fall-related fractures.