Approximately one in two older adults living in long-term care (LTC) settings sustains a fall every year, resulting in significant human suffering and treatment costs. The complex set of factors that contribute to fall risk among this population demands a multidisciplinary approach to this problem, with physicians playing a pivotal role in risk assessment, prevention, and management. We describe a study where facility personnel from five LTC sites were trained in the use of a standardized surveillance tool to track falls, fall injuries, and contributing factors over 16-months. Using a pre-/post-test design, interventions included a multidisciplinary, evidence-based approach to fall risk assessment and monitoring, environmental modifications, exercise, and education strategies. Interventions by a multidisciplinary team, including physicians, were successful in reducing fall-related injuries and relatively successful in reducing the rate of falls among LTC residents. Further study is needed over a longer period of time, using a randomized control trial, to determine the effectiveness of specific interventions and to generalize findings to the larger population of LTC residents.
Key words: fall prevention, long-term care, multidisciplinary approach, older adults.