‘Mobility Is Medicine’: Ambulation Program Reduces Risk of Falls with Injury Among Patients

By Kaitlyn D’Onofrio - Last Updated: April 22, 2021

A poster presented during the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) Congress evaluated the correlation between ambulation and the risk of falls with injury in an inpatient oncology unit.

“We created the Mobility Is Medicine project due to our inpatient oncology patients not being mobilized consistently,” said Connie Green, MSN, RN, OCN, who presented the poster. “We know immobility increases weakness and creates decompensation, causing a greater risk of falls. Oncology patients are at a much higher risk of injury with falls.”

Green’s inpatient unit volunteered to take part in the Missouri Hospital Association’s Rapid Cycle Change “GetUP” initiative. The key components implemented at her center were the Falls Tailoring Interventions for Patient Safety (TIPS) program, which individually assesses a patient’s fall risk; the Banner Mobility Assessment Tool (BMAT), which is used to create an ambulation plan for patients; and an Ambulation Tech.

“We wanted patients walking three times a day and up to a chair three times a day,” Green said.

Justin Wright, BSN, RN, who also presented the poster, elaborated, “After full implementation of the GetUP initiative, we sustained a rate of 0 falls with injury per 1,000 patient days for over five months, as well as a solid decline in our need for one-to-one observation for fall safety. Over the course of the development of our project, we did find a few challenges.”

Among the challenges were a significant culture shift for nursing staff, consistency when using the mobility tools, and engaging the patients in fall prevention and mobility, Wright explained. Staffing changes and greater collaboration with physical therapy teams were also necessary for the program’s success. Consistent activity resulted in increased patient satisfaction, he noted.

“Overall, once we had staff buy-in, a consistent process, and it became part of our daily routine, we have found continued success with our project,” Wright concluded.

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