Background Patients with communication disability following stroke are often excluded from falls research.
Aim This researched aimed to identify the circumstances of falls in hospital in patients with communication disability following stroke.
Method Matched medical records and incident reports from patients with communication disability after stroke who experienced a fall in hospital were examined according to the Generic Reference Model of Patient Safety. Qualitative coding informed a content thematic analysis.
Results Records of 109 patients who experienced 308 falls were analysed. Five main themes and two sub-themes were identified: (1) communication disability sometimes being described as a risk factor; (2) falls prevention strategies largely focus on mitigating physical risk factors; (3) the perception of falls as a consequence of unmet patient needs or risk-taking behaviours; (4) the patient’s inability to describe the circumstance of the fall; and (5) post fall patient assessments were difficult to complete. Subthemes relating to contributing factors for falls were the patient’s ability to gain staff attention and communicate needs.
Conclusion This study provides insights into the falls of patients with communication disability following stroke. Falls related to unmet and risk-taking behaviours may be preventable if patients are able to communicate their needs and gain attention from staff. Future research should investigate strategies that may contribute to improved falls prevention and management for patients with communication disability after stroke. Harnessing the expertise of speech pathologists in identifying communication-related risk and enabling improved communication may help to enhance safety in patients with communication disability following stroke.
Learning Outcomes 1) Participants will understand the circumstances of falls in hospital in patients with communication disability following stroke
2) Participants will identify how communication disability following stroke impacts the falls sequelae
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