Published 11/1/2017
Alan S. Hilibrand, MD, MBA

Give the Gift of Safety

Encourage patients to fall-proof their homes this holiday season
The holiday season is upon us! With many of our patients planning to travel or preparing for visits from friends and family, now is an ideal time to talk to them about fall proofing their homes.

As orthopaedic surgeons, we understand how dangerous falls can be, especially for elderly patients who are at a greater risk of hip fractures. According to the National Hospital Discharge Survey, more than 90 percent of hip fractures are caused by falls, often with devastating consequences. For example, just 25 percent of hip fracture patients will make a full recovery following a hip fracture, 40 percent will require nursing home admission, 50 percent will be dependent upon a cane or a walker, and 20 percent will die within one year of the injury.

Although we've all been guilty of maneuvering around decorations and clutter, guests shouldn't have to do the same, especially when they're in an unfamiliar home. The AAOS, in partnership with the Orthopaedic Trauma Association, created a falls prevention guide highlighting fall-proofing safety tips to help patients safeguard their homes against falls.

Simple changes that can improve the safety of a home include installing a nightlight along the route between the bedroom and bathroom; clearing clutter out of the hallways and stairs; securing loose area rugs with double-faced tape, tacks, or slip-resistant backing; and rearranging furniture to clear a pathway between rooms.

The falls prevention guide also prepares patients for what to do after a fall. Most importantly, they should not panic. Instead, patients should assess the situation and determine if they're hurt; slide or crawl along the floor to the nearest couch or chair and try to get up; call for help if they're unable to do so; and slowly crawl to the telephone and call 911 or relatives.

This holiday season, we ask that you be our partner in sharing the following fall prevention resources:

  • Print and share the Academy's falls prevention guide and infographic with your patients in your offices or on social media. Tag us @AAOS1 and use hashtag #HomeSafetyIsBoneSafety.
  • Order the falls prevention public service announcement poster to display in your offices or download a high resolution copy from the Academy's website.
  • Guide patients to Orthoinfo.org/Falls to access an electronic copy of the falls prevention guide and other fall-safety resources.

For more information about holiday falls prevention or to share ideas on how to expand our reach of this important topic to the public, media, and patients, contact the AAOS public relations department at media@aaos.org.

Alan S. Hilibrand, MD, MBA, is the chair of the AAOS Communications Cabinet.