What Is A Fall Risk Assessment?
For children or young adults, a fall might mean nothing more than a scrape or a few stitches, but for older people, a fall can be a severe health setback that can lead to long-term disability or significantly reduced quality of life.
Falling is a particular concern for elderly patients due to the increased risk of falling with age and the increased risk of serious fall-related problems. This is especially for those over the age of 65, as well as those who suffer from walking, balance, and vision issues. This is in addition to heart palpitations, and low blood pressure.
Contrary to popular belief, falls are often not the random occurrence we assume they are. The likelihood of falls increases with factors such as diabetes, cognitive impairment, postural hypotension, incontinence, and mental health. Many of these risk factors for falls can be screened for and incorporated into a , a valuable tool for practitioners to identify individuals at risk of falling to implement preventative strategies.
To help standardize this process and ensure clinicians can consistently identify their patients at risk of falling, we have created an interactive PDF version of the commonly used FRAT (Fall Risk Assessment Test). To see how you can implement this handy assessment to ensure your patients receive the interventions they need to prevent falls before they happen, just keep reading.
Lowering Fall Risk
To help, it is also recommended to take on board the following tips to reduce the risk of falling.
- Get up slowly to prevent feeling dizzy
- Use assistive devices, such as a cane
- Modify your home with bars to hold onto, and if possible, live within a one-level home
- Take vitamin D supplements
- Try group exercise classes
- Wear glassess if suffering from poor vision
How To Use This Fall Risk Assessment
This simple Fall Risk Assessment is based on the first part of the full Fall Risk Assessment Tool (FRAT) developed by Peninsula Health in 1999. This assessment is split into different risk factors that can contribute to an increased likelihood of falling. Follow the step-by-step guide below to gain confidence in administering this invaluable assessment.
Recent Falls Risk Factor
The first risk factor to assess is if your patient has fallen recently. Falling in the past is a good indicator that a patient may be at risk of falling again. This risk factor gives the lowest score of 2 if the patient has not had a fall in the last year and the highest score of 8 if they have fallen in the previous three months while they were an inpatient or resident at a hospital or rehabilitation centre.
Medication Risk Factors
Another risk factor for falling is being on certain medications. The Fall Risk Assessment includes examples of medications that should be counted for this section, including anti-depressants, hypertensives, sedatives, diuretics or hypnotics.
Psychological Risk Factors
Certain psychological factors can contribute to a patient's risk of falling, such as depression, poor insight or judgment, or anxiety.
Cognitive Status Risk Factors
The cognitive status risk factor is assessed using a separate assessment called the Hodkinson Abbreviated Mental Test Score. This is a rapid questionnaire which is designed to determine the presence of dementia in elderly patients. This is a commonly used and validated tool you can read more about in the reference provided at the end of this article.
Automatic High-Risk Factors
In addition to these four risk factor categories, there are two questions that, if applicable to the patient, automatically give them a high fall risk status.
Tally Final Score and Determine Fall Risk Status
Once you have completed each assessment section, assigning a score to each, it’s time to tally up the scores and determine the final risk status. A score of 5-11 gives a low-risk status, 12-15 is a medium-risk status, and above 16 is a high-risk status. Additionally, if either automatic high-risk status factor is selected, the fall risk status is high regardless of the total score.
Determine Interventions Based on Fall Risk Status
Once the assessment is completed, it’s time to determine the next steps for your patient. Depending on their fall risk status, you may recommend a different intervention level from no intervention required to additional home support, mobility aids, changes to their medication regime, mental health interventions, or referral to a specialist geriatrician to optimize their care.
Save and store securely
The last step is to store the fall risk assessment securely as part of your patient’s medical record. This assessment contains confidential and important information which other members of their care team may need to access in the future. As such, it’s important this assessment is stored both securely and accessibly.
Fall Risk Assessment Example (Sample)
To see an example of how this Fall Risk Assessment can help identify patients at greater risk of falls, just look at our example Fall Risk Assessment. This example is a completed version of the interactive PDF assessment designed to illustrate a sample patient’s response. Read our example Fall Risk Assessment below, or download the sample PDF if you prefer.
When Would You Typically Use This Fall Risk Assessment Assessment?
A Fall Risk Assessment is a concise enough assessment that it can be undertaken at any stage of a patient’s care but would typically be administered upon the intake of a potentially susceptible patient to a new healthcare provider. This could be upon admission to a new healthcare centre, upon hospitalization for any reason- whether related to a fall or not, or for any patient who fits a threshold for fall risk screening, whether that is age or mobility-level-related.
Patients admitted to rehabilitation centres, such as post-stroke rehabilitation, may also have a fall risk assessment to identify any additional interventions they require while they are an inpatient.
Who Can Use This Printable Fall Risk Assessment?
Although a relatively straightforward assessment, the interpretation of the Fall Risk Assessment and the treatment decisions in response to the Fall Risk Assessment result require the expertise of a trained healthcare practitioner. These might include:
- Nurses and nurse practitioners
- Physical Therapists
- Occupational Therapists
Why Is This Assessment Popular With Nurses?
Concise Assessment Tool
This tool is quick to administer and requires no additional equipment other than knowledge of the ten questions comprising the Hodkinson AMTS. This means it can be performed with minimal prior arrangement and can quickly determine a quantitative fall risk factor for your patient to inform their future interventions.
Simple scoring system
The result of this fall risk assessment is a simple numerical score and a categorization of Low, Medium, or High risk of falling. This simple scoring system is beneficial for quickly communicating a patient’s risk status to others in their care team and ensuring they get the treatment they need as soon as possible to prevent future falls.
Benefits Of Free Fall Risk Assessment
Standardize your Fall Risk Assessments
Ensure you give all your patients the same level of care by using the same Fall Risk Assessment every time. Having a standardized process for fall risk assessment is a great way to ensure you don’t miss any key risk factors for your patient. It also allows you to compare scores between patients and for the same patient over time.
Keep your Assessments Digital
Another great benefit of this Fall Risk Assessment is that it can be kept entirely digital, meaning you can fill it out, share it, and store it entirely digitally. This saves time printing and scanning and allows you to utilize digital encryption to enhance your data security.
Structure your Appointment
This Fall Risk Assessment can also provide a structure for your appointment with your patient, separating each risk factor into different sections, which you can use as a framework for your discussion in their session with you.
Keep comprehensive records
Keeping comprehensive records is crucial to meeting your legal medical documentation requirements. Having a copy of the type of Fall Risk Assessment you used for your patient (and for all of your patients!) is a great way to ensure you keep precise and complete medical records.
Improve communication within your patient’s team
Using a standardized fall risk assessment ensures that other members of your patient’s care team can quickly understand the assessment that was administered, and interpret the results.
Why Use Carepatron For Fall Risk Assessment Software?
Carepatron is an intuitive and comprehensive software guaranteed to save you time on your practice’s administration work. Automate your email or SMS appointment reminders, utilize our smart dictation software, and offer your patients their own Carepatron portal to book appointments with you and access their medical records.
You can access this Fall Risk Assessment, assign it to your patients, and store it securely all from within Carepatron- and rest assured that your patient's data will be safe with Carepatron’s HIPAA-compliant, bank-level data security.
In addition to security, with Carepatron’s mobile and desktop platforms, you’ll be able to access the information you need- wherever you need it.
Fall Risk Assessment Tool (FRAT) - Peninsula Health (1999)