Evaluation of three fall-risk assessment tools in an acute care setting

Emily Ang Neo Kim, Siti Zubaidah Mordiffi, Wong Hwee Bee, Kamala Devi, David Evans
Journal of Advanced Nursing 2007, 60 (4): 427-35

AIM: This paper is a report of a study to evaluate the validity of three fall-risk assessment tools to identify patients at high risk for falls.

BACKGROUND: Patient falls make up 38% of all adverse events occurring in hospital settings, and may result in physical injury and undesirable emotional and financial outcomes. No single fall-risk assessment tool has been conclusively validated.

METHOD: The Morse Fall Scale, St Thomas Risk Assessment Tool in Falling Elderly Inpatients, and Hendrich II Fall Risk Model were validated in inter-rater reliability and validity studies in 2003. This included assessment of the probability of disagreement, kappa-values, sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive values and negative predictive values of the assessment tools with the associated 95% CI.

FINDINGS: One hundred and forty-four patients were recruited for the inter-rater reliability study. The probabilities of disagreement were between 2.8% and 9.7%, and 95% CI for all tools ranged from 1.1% to 15.7%. The kappa-values were all higher than 0.80. In the validity study, 5489 patients were recruited to observe 60 falls. The Morse Fall Scale at a cutoff score of 25 and Heindrich II Fall Risk Model at a cutoff score of 5 had strong sensitivity values of 88% and 70%, respectively. However, in comparison with the Morse Fall Scale (specificity = 48.3%), only the Heindrich II Fall Risk Model had a more acceptable level of specificity (61.5%).

CONCLUSION: The Heindrich II Fall Risk Model is potentially useful in identifying patients at high risk for falls in acute care facilities.

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