Why patients in palliative care in-patient settings are at high risk of falls and falls-related harm: A realist synthesis

Helen Forrow*, Monique Lhussier, Jason Scott, Joanne Atkinson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Falls are the third highest reported safety incident in Specialist Palliative Care in-patient settings and yet specific risk factors connected with falling and associated outcomes in this setting are poorly understood.

Aim: To understand the key individualised risk factors leading to falls in specialist in-patient palliative care settings and understand the implications and outcomes for the patients who fall.

Design: A realist synthesis of the literature, reported following the Realist And Meta-narrative Evidence Syntheses: Evolving Standards (RAMESES) standards.

Data Sources: An iterative literature search was conducted across three recognised health collections as well as grey literature from policy, practice and other relevant areas.

Results: Falls taking place within in-patient specialist palliative care settings can cause significant harm to patients. The risk factors for these patients are multifaceted and often interlinked with underpinning complex realist mechanisms including a history of falls, the age of the person, impact of complex medications, improving functional status and the presence of delirium.

Conclusion: In-patients in specialist palliative care settings are at risk of falling and this is multifactorial with complex reasoning mechanisms underpinning the identified risks. There is a significant impact of a fall in this cohort of patients with many sustaining serious harm, delayed discharge, and both physical and psychological impacts.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPalliative Medicine
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Sep 2022

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