Patient falls at the hospital are a serious event that results in poor patient outcomes including injury, higher treatment utilization, and greater costs. When compared to other hospitalized patients, oncology patients have a greater risk of falls. A systematic review assessed the literature regarding oncology fall risk scales available for clinical use. The results were detailed in a poster presented during the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) Congress.
A multi-database search was performed, using keywords including cancer, oncology, fall, accident, risk, predict, scale, tool, and screen. Research pertaining to pre-cancer, outpatient/community care, survivorship, and multifactorial interventions was excluded.
Of 1,771 abstracts screened for consideration, the final qualitive synthesis included eight studies.
There were no systematic reviews pertaining to oncology fall risk assessment scales, but two reviews discussed general fall risk assessment scales used in oncology patients. There were five fall risk-assessment scales highlighted in six articles, and three were specifically related to oncology. Only one study compared an oncology-specific scale to a standard scale, and this study found the former was better equipped at fall prediction.
The researchers concluded that the literature lacks evidence on fall risk assessment specifically pertaining to oncology patients. Among the limited evidence available, there is disagreement over which risk factors are significant. It is possible that an assessment specific to oncology patients may help improve risk assessment, but there is a need for more data to better understand which risk factors are the most significant when it comes to falls among oncology patients.