"I have fallen and I can't get up" was the Snuggie™ equivalent infomercial of my childhood. Day and night, Lifecall advertisements ran on my favorite television channels.
Twenty years later, I find myself responding to real calls for "I have fallen and I can't get up." I know you do, too. I believe it is important for EMS providers to offer fall prevention tips to the patient and/or their families. We are usually the only health care providers that see the patient's living room. Some patient tips are:
1. If you have a walker or a cane that you are supposed to use, then use it.
2. Don't get out of bed or up from a chair suddenly.
3. Move cords for lights, TVs, and appliances out of walking paths.
4. Know where your pets are before you move.
5. Use railings when going up or down steps.
6. Wear shoes instead of slippers for better traction.
7. Don't use slippery area or throw rugs in kitchen, hallways, or bathrooms.
8. Install handholds in the tub and near the toilet.
Make fall prevention part of your geriatric patient assessment and treatment. In my community, the paramedic transport service is able to refer patients to a fall prevention program. On the West coast, King County EMS manages a fall prevention program.
Do you have a fall prevention program in your community? Share your fall prevention ideas and resources in the comments area.
For more information and ideas, read this consensus position paper.