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Preventing Falls in the Hospital

Falls are a threat to your health

Falling can have bad effects on your health. Injury from a fall can lead to losing your independence. A fall can be very serious, especially if you have just had surgery or you have an illness. This page tells you how to reduce your risk for falls and what to do if you fall.

When you’re in the hospital, it’s important to do what the health care staff tell you to do. This is for your safety. For example, to reduce your risk of falling, you may be asked to call for help to get out of bed or a chair. You should use your call light and wait for help to arrive. You may be asked not to get out of bed or walk by yourself until the staff make sure you can do so safely.

You also should take a good look around your hospital room. Become aware of your surroundings. Awareness reduces your chance of falling. Certain factors increase your risk of falling in the hospital. Below is a list of risk factors and ways to reduce your risk.


The side effects of medicine may increase your risk of falling. Talk to your nurse or doctor about the possible side effects of any medicines you take.

Some medicines may affect your mental or physical state. For example, pain medicines and sleeping pills can make you drowsy and weak. Be very careful when you walk after taking these medicines. Sit on the side of the bed for a minute before you get up to walk.

Call for help if you feel weak or dizzy, especially if your nurse or doctor has told you to do so.

If you have an intravenous (IV) line, a catheter, or oxygen, the equipment must go with you. It may be hard to manage by yourself, and you could lose your balance. Call for help before you get up. You may want to ask for a bedside toilet or keep a bedpan next to you for an emergency.

Blood pressure medicines may make you dizzy when you go from a lying to a sitting position. Sit on the edge of the bed until the dizziness passes.


When you wear stockings or socks without shoes, you have a greater risk of falling. Wear shoes or slippers when you are getting out of bed. Ask the staff for a pair of slippers, or bring slippers from home.


Walking in the dark is dangerous. You can trip over objects that you can’t see. Turn on the light before you get out of bed.


If you don’t see well, your risk of falling is greater. Blurred vision is a side effect of some medicines. Cataracts and other eye diseases can limit your vision. Be sure to wear your glasses or contact lenses. If you have trouble seeing, talk to your doctor or nurse.

Drops and spills

If you spill water or any beverage, do not try to clean it up yourself. You may miss a spot. If you drop an item on the floor, do not try to pick it up. Bending over can make you dizzy, and you could fall. Do not lean out of bed to try to pick up something from the floor. Call for help if you drop or spill something.


Some diseases affect your physical strength and balance. For example, Parkinson’s is a disease of the nerves and muscles that can affect the way a person walks. If you have dizziness or weakness in your legs or feet, call for help to get out of bed. Other diseases affect your mental state. If you feel you’re not thinking clearly, call your nurse or nurse aide for help.


When you’re in a new place, you may be confused if you wake up during the night from a sound sleep. You may not remember at first where you are or how the room is arranged. Patients who try to walk in the dark often fall. Do not get out of bed at night by yourself. Call the nurse for help.

Asking for help

Some hospital patients fall because they do not call for help. It’s better to be safe than sorry. If you’re unsteady on your feet or not feeling well enough to walk alone, please call the staff for help.

Assistive devices

Canes, walkers, and crutches are called “assistive devices.” These devices provide extra stability for walking and can help you avoid falls. If you have a cane, a walker, or crutches, use them even when you’re in your hospital room. If you need help with your device, talk to your nurse or physical therapist.

If you have questions

If you have any questions about this information, please talk with your nurse, therapist, or doctor.


[1]UPMC life changing medicine. Preventing Falls in the Hospital and at Home.http://www.upmc.com/patients-visitors/education/safety/Pages/preventing-falls-in-the-hospital-and-at-home.aspx, 2017/2017-8.30.

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