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Patient Falls a Growing Problem in U.S. Hospitals

Posted on Sep 21, 2012

According to data from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), as many as 20 percent of all hospital patients in the United States fall at least once during their stay. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) considers these falls to be preventable. The financial burden associated with patient falls is approximately $20.2 billion each year, and as many as 25 percent of elderly patients who fall will die from the fall or from related complications.

Premier Inc., a collaborative healthcare organization that uses data and common practices to promote solutions for improving the healthcare industry, says that falls in hospitals consistently make up the largest single category of reported incidents in the United States every year.

Seattle personal injury attorney and patient advocate Chris Davis says that although the statistics are extremely troubling, he is not the least bit surprised.

“Overall, it seems as though there is a lack of accountability in today’s healthcare system. Many hospitals pay lip service to preventing patient falls. Many hospital employees like nurses and assistants still consider falls inevitable and something that cannot be avoided, when in fact the data shows completely the opposite,” Davis says. “In fact, most injury falls are preventable when hospital staff uses simple and standard prevention measures, especially for high fall risk patients.”

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), according to its website, considers falls in hospital settings to be a “preventable” occurrence. For this reason, Medicare no longer reimburses hospitals for fall-related treatment. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has taken a much stronger stance by placing these incidents on its list of "never events,” which is a term for shocking medical errors that should never occur.

Davis adds that “in creating the list of ‘never events,’ the Department of Health and Human Services has made it obvious that patient falls can be easily avoided and hospitals can prevent needless suffering and death. You visit a hospital to get better, not to expose yourself to fall risks and hazards.”

Davis, who is the principal attorney and founder of the Seattle-based Davis Law Group, has authored several books on injury law and compensatory damages throughout his career as a trial attorney. For a limited time, he is offering his book, “Washington Injury Law: A Reference Guide for Accident Victims” for free to injury victims in his home state of Washington. “Washington Injury Law” is part of the Washington Accident Books series, and anyone interested in ordering their free copy should visit

About Chris Davis

Christopher M. Davis, founder of the Davis Law Group, has been a licensed attorney in the state of Washington since 1993. He has tried dozens of personal injury cases to verdict and has successfully handled and resolved hundreds of accident claims. He has been a Washington Super Lawyer' for seven years in a row for his expertise and success in litigating personal injury claims. You can learn more about the firm by visiting: