Patients Fall for Hi-Tech Hospital

SAN ANTONIO. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – It may come as a surprise, but hospitals are not the safest place when it comes to the danger of falling. Possibly due to medications and lack of familiarity, a patient falling is a very serious problem for hospitals.  The technology you've seen in cars is helping cut down on falls.

A fall at home has put Henry Garza in the hospital with a fractured hip.

"He just turned around I think too fast, and just twisted his ankle," Irene Garza, Henry's wife, explained.

Henry said, "I couldn't move my leg." 

The danger of falling isn't just at home. Somewhere between 700,000 and one million hospital patients fall each year. It's a serious issue.

"It can increase their length of stay, it can cause injury, fractures can occur, "said Sarah Humme, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, CENP at Southwest General Hospital in San Antonio.

New technology called CareView is making it easier. It's an infrared camera aimed toward the patient in his hospital room. Using a computer at the nurse's station, a line is drawn around the patient on the monitor.

Henry in a chair in his room is now safe.

"What this does, it creates a zone of protection around him so that if he were to move outside of those rails, there are these imaginary zones that the computer puts onto the image, "said John Salyers, a Clinical Coordinator at Southwest General Hospital . "As he moves out, the programming will let us know that he's outside of that safe zone."

CareView also gives family peace of mind when they aren't at the hospital.

Irene said, "I'm very happy that they have these cameras."

Most patients who fall in hospitals are not seriously injured, but it does increase the hospital's operational cost by more than $13,000 for that patient, and falls can also increase a patient's length of stay by about six days.