Wireless sock monitors reduce rate of patient falls in hospital setting, study finds

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Research led by nurses at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center found that a new wireless sock monitoring system reduced fall rates among “fall-risk” patients hospitalized at Ohio State’s Brain and Spine Hospital. In fact, none of the patients who were on a fall-risk protocol fell while wearing the socks over 2,211.6 patient-days during the study.

The study evaluated the effectiveness of Palarum’s PUP (Patient is Up) Smart Socks and findings are published online in the Journal of Nursing Care Quality.

Data was collected on 569 patients who were hospitalized in the major academic medical center’s neurological and neurosurgical units during 13 months of the study period. These units specialize in stroke, orthopedics, neurosurgery, general neurology and epilepsy. Originally planned to enroll 2,500 patients, the study ended early because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Patients can fall while they are hospitalized, and this can sometimes lead to injury or death. We know that existing fall prevention measures do not work consistently,” said senior investigator Tammy Moore, Associate Chief Nurse of Ohio State’s Neurological Institute and Medical Surgical. “During our study, we observed zero falls, which was a lower fall rate among the patients wearing these socks than the historical fall rate of 4 falls per 1,000 patient-days.”

During the study period, 5,010 safety events (alarms) were associated with the system. Eleven were reported to be false alarms, indicating 4,999 of the safety events (or 99.8%) were true patient stands, Moore said.

At admission to the hospital, patients’ fall risk scores were assessed by nurses based on the hospital’s assessment tool. All patients enrolled in the study were provided with the socks until discharge or removal from the fall risk protocol, and no other fall prevention system, such as chair or bed alarms or TeleSitter was used for these patients.

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