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Falls are a potentially catastrophic complication of inpatient care and a big piece of evaluating patient safety. Medical studies have found that falls occur at a rate of 3 - 5 per 1,000 bed-days. More than a third of inpatient falls result in an injury that can include fractures and head trauma. Even falls that do not result in an injury can cause stress and anxiety to the patient.

In addition to patient risk, there is also a financial risk. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services does not reimburse hospitals for additional costs associated with patient falls.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) estimates that 700,000 to 1 million hospitalized patients fall each year. Aside from analyzing patient safety data to determine fall causes, there is a straightforward tool that can minimize patient falls from even happening.

The Morse Fall Scale (MFS) is an evidence-based fall prevention evaluation that is a quick and efficient way to assess the risk factors of a patient falling. There are six easy-to-answer questions that will rapidly identify if a fall risk is high, moderate, low, or if there is no fall risk present.

Not all falls are predictable or preventable in acute care settings. The MFS aid has been shown to predict up to 78% of patients who fall. According to Janice M. Morse, the researcher and creator of the MFS, falls are classified into 3 types:

  • 8% are considered accidents
  • 14% are due to change in the patient’s condition and are not easily foreseeable
  • 78% are anticipated physiologically and related to the conditionMFS GIF page turning2 of the patient

A fall resulting from an individual physiological response to illness or treatments occurs when patient ambulation is essential to patient recovery. American Data Network has created a free Morse Fall Scale calculator that is simple to download and put into practice immediately. This MFS is a quick and easy-to-use guide for evaluating a patient’s need to walk in order to heal while considering the potential risk for harm.

About American Data Network

For more than 25 years, American Data Network (ADN), which is also the parent company to its Patient Safety Organization (ADNPSO), has worked with large data sets from various sources, aggregating and mining data to identify patterns, trends, and priorities within the clinical, financial, quality and patient safety arenas. ADN developed the Quality Assurance Communication (QAC) application, with which hospitals, clinics, rehabs, and other providers record and manage patient safety events. By entering events into ADN’s QAC application and submitting them to ADNPSO, information is federally protected and thereby privileged and confidential. These protections provide a safe harbor to learn from mistakes and improve patient safety.


  1. Patient Safety Network, Patient Safety Primer - Falls
  2. Preventing Falls in Hospitals, AHRQ
  3. https://networkofcare.org/library/Morse%20Fall%20Scale.pdf 
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