A Longitudinal Study of a Multifaceted Intervention to Reduce Newborn Falls While Preserving Rooming-In on a Mother-Baby Unit


      Newborn falls occur when newborns held by caregivers slip from hands or arms and land on another surface. Though injury is rare, The Joint Commission has highlighted newborn falls as a patient safety priority. One hospital sought to reduce newborn falls to fewer than 10 per 10,000 births, to achieve 365 days without a fall, and to reduce injuries from falls to zero, while preserving mother-baby rooming-in.


      An interprofessional quality improvement team developed and implemented prevention measures after three falls occurred in a two-month period. The team performed root cause analysis (RCA) of events and 10 in-depth chart reviews, and developed and implemented parent education materials, a nursing risk assessment tool and job aid, and a standardized reporting system. Outcomes were measured using statistical process control methods for rare events.


      In early 2017 the hospital's newborn fall rate increased to 71.8 falls per 10,000 births, with 3 falls occurring in a two-month period. RCA and chart review found sustained prenatal maternal opioid intake in 4 of 10 cases. Mechanism of fall differed by mode of delivery, with more drops by a sleeping caregiver following vaginal deliveries and falls due to maternal trips after cesarean deliveries. After interventions, the fall rate decreased to 15.5 per 10,000 births. Days between falls increased from a low of 9 days to a high of 467 days. No newborn injuries have occurred since early 2017.


      A series of interventions, including parent education, nursing practices, and attention to physical layout, was associated with reduced newborn falls and elimination of fall-related injuries while preserving rooming-in on a mother-baby unit with many opioid-exposed newborns.
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