Author(s): Nelson A, PowellCope G, GavinDreschnack D, Quigley P, Bulat T,
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Abstract New technologies designed to help prevent adverse events related to the mobility of geriatric patients (ie, patient falls, bed-rail entrapment, patient handling, and wandering) are described. Technology offers the potential to eliminate or mitigate preventable adverse events that interfere with treatment, delay rehabilitation, potentiate impairment, and compromise patient safety. Unchecked, these adverse events can have a negative impact on patient health, functional status, and quality of life. It is not surprising that the elderly constitute the population at highest risk for adverse events, based on poor health, chronic conditions, long hospitalizations, and institutional care. Patient falls are a high-risk, high-volume, and high-cost adverse event. Key technologies to prevent falls and fall-related injuries include hip protectors, wheelchair/scooter safety features, intelligent walkers, fall alarms, and environmental aids. Bed-rail entrapment is a serious adverse event, which includes patients being trapped, entangled, or strangled in beds. New technologies to prevent bed-rail entrapment include new hospital bed designs, height-adjustable low beds, devices to close gaps in legacy beds, and bedside floor mats. Patients with mobility impairments necessitate physical assistance in transfers and other patient-handling tasks, which increases risk for the caregiver and the patient. Featured technologies to prevent patient handling injuries include innovations in floor-based lifts, new ceiling-mounted patient lifts, and improvements in powered standing lifts, new friction-reducing devices, and new patient transport technology. Wandering affects 39\% of cognitively impaired nursing home residents and up to 70\% of community-residing elderly persons with cognitive impairments. New technologies to prevent adverse events associated with wandering include door alarms and signal-transmitting devices. Nurses in geriatric settings would benefit from exposure to technologies that could improve patient and caregiver safety. To maximize the benefits of technology, it is critical that front-line nursing staff be involved in the testing and selection of devices that will be used in their practice. Further, to reap the full benefits of technology, a careful plan for implementation needs to be developed that would include integrating the new technology with existing infrastructure. Training needs to be provided for all staff who will be using the technology, and efforts to ensure competency over time is needed. A major barrier to widespread use of new technology is cost. Further research is needed to demonstrate the cost effectiveness of these devices. Results from these studies will help to build a business case, demonstrating that initial capital investments will result in cost savings, improved quality of care, and other benefits.
This article was published in Nurs Clin North Am
and referenced in Journal of Antivirals & Antiretrovirals