Patient safety is the hospital mantra, especially in the pediatric unit where staff aspire to keep their littlest patients comfortable and safe. Despite everyone’s best efforts, however, infants still manage to tumble out of their hospital cribs. In response to concerns from regulatory agencies, standard committees and commercial interests alike, a new crib, with rail sensors, attempts to keep children nestled all snug in their beds.
In healthcare facilities across North America, little looms of greater importance than ensuring patient safety. Prime among concerns in this ongoing crusade is the issue of preventing falls from hospital beds, especially hospital cribs. In order to prevent injuries to infants, toddlers, or young children, the integrity of cribs and their rails has fallen under greater scrutiny. Infant falls are considered a preventable occurrence, and facilities continually avail themselves of every available tool in their effort to keep accidental falls from happening in the first place.
Any pediatric incident within an acute-care, skilled or community-care facility sets off a complex chain of inquiry and paperwork from both internal (quality care) and external (licensing, accreditation) sources. The threat of losing accreditation ranks as great as the certainty of a civil judgment against a facility found to be without proper preventative measures. It doesn’t matter that a majority of accidents involving pediatric crib rails might stem from visiting parents or relatives who inadvertently fail to lock the crib side rails in the “up” position after visiting with their baby; culpability remains with the facility.
“A small, but not insignificant, number of children fall out of hospital cribs each year, and it’s both a medical issue and a liability issue for the hospital,” notes Brahm Goldstein, M.D., former director of the pediatric intensive care unit of Doernbecher Children’s Hospital (Portland, Ore.). Goldstein is currently director of the entire hospital. “This issue has been one of the major quality focuses that we’ve had in our quality-assurance program here at the Doernbecher Children’s Hospital this past year.”
With a patient population of 370 developmentally disabled adults and children, the Wisconsin Developmental Center, in Madison, is particularly attuned to the issue of pediatric falls.
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