Fall prediction according to nurses' clinical judgment: differences between medical, surgical, and geriatric wards.


Journal Article

OBJECTIVES: To assess the value of nurses' clinical judgment (NCJ) in predicting hospital inpatient falls. DESIGN: Prospective multicenter study. SETTING: Six Belgian hospitals. PARTICIPANTS: Two thousand four hundred seventy participants (mean age 67.6 ± 18.3; female, 55.7%) on four surgical (n = 812, 32.9%), eight geriatric (n = 666, 27.0%), and four general medical wards (n = 992, 40.1%) were included upon admission. All participants were hospitalized for at least 48 hours. MEASUREMENTS: Within 24 hours after admission, nurses gave their judgment on the question "Do you think your patient is at high risk for falling?" Nurses were not trained in assessing fall risk. Falls were documented on a standardized incident report form. RESULTS: During hospitalization, 143 (5.8%) participants experienced one or more falls, accounting for 202 falls and corresponding to an overall rate of 7.9 falls per 1,000 patient days. NCJ of participant's risk of falling had high sensitivity (78-92%) with high negative predictive value (94-100%) but low positive predictive value (4-17%). Although false-negative rates were low (8-22%) for all departments and age groups, false-positive rates were high (55-74%), except on surgical and general medical wards and in participants younger than 75. CONCLUSION: This analysis, based on multicenter data and a large sample size, suggests that NCJ can be recommended on surgical and general medical wards and in individuals younger than 75, but on geriatric wards and in participants aged 75 and older, NCJ overestimates risk of falling and is thus not recommended because expensive comprehensive fall-prevention measures would be implemented in a large number of individuals who do not need it.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Milisen, K; Coussement, J; Flamaing, J; Vlaeyen, E; Schwendimann, R; Dejaeger, E; Surmont, K; Boonen, S

Published Date

  • June 2012

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 60 / 6

Start / End Page

  • 1115 - 1121

PubMed ID

  • 22642658

Pubmed Central ID

  • 22642658

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1532-5415

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0002-8614

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2012.03957.x


  • eng