To kick off Falls Prevention Week, Vitalchat would like to recognize the significant contributions of fall prevention pioneer, Janice Morse, PhD., who’s collaborated with clinical and technology industry leaders over the years to help drive the future of innovative, patient safety-focused solutions.

A photo of Dr. Janice Morse, PhD.
Dr. Janice Morse, PhD.

Dr. Morse’s passion for fall prevention research began in the 1980’s when she developed one of the first bed alarms, as well as classifications for types of falls, and facilitated the removal of restraints in care of the frail elderly.

In 1982, together with Robert Morse she developed the Morse Falls Scale, now used in hospitals worldwide. In the 1990s she served as a consultant to a major hospital bed manufacturer, conducting walkthroughs to identify institutional risks in hospitals throughout the U.S., Singapore and Hong Kong. She also founded three journals and created four scholarly book series on qualitative research.

Dr. Morse has doctorates in Nursing and Anthropology and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing (FAAN). She recently retired from the University of Utah College of Nursing as Emerita Distinguished Professor, as well as Professor Emerita at the University of Alberta.

Our very own Chief Clinical and Experience Officer, Theresa O’Hollaren, has had the honor to work with Dr. Morse on several falls prevention projects, including the Patient Safety Movement Foundation “Falls and Fall Prevention in Adults- E-Book.”

There is no doubt that her life’s work in falls prevention has impacted the lives of millions of patients and families around the world. Thank you, Dr. Morse, for your dedication and many contributions!

The State of Falls Management Amid a Nursing Shortage

So, after 40 years of focus on falls, where are we today? Sadly, despite fall prevention being one of the top safety initiatives in healthcare, the Joint Commission reported in 2022 that falls were the most common sentinel event reported among hospitals in the first six months. Compared to the last 10 years, the rates of falls have increased at alarming rates.

Source: The Joint Commission Sentinel Event Data 2022 Annual Review

Even though strategies and technology have improved, falls continue to represent a pervasive and multifaceted problem, with potentially severe consequences for both patients and healthcare institutions. Unfortunately, the nursing and caregiver shortage will make this problem worse, unless we take a drastically different approach.

Just as bed alarms, risk assessments, remote monitoring, multidisciplinary consults and other tools have continued to evolve, new technology and processes will need to be added in order to address the significant gaps in care that have been created by the nursing shortage.

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), 1 million nurses will retire by 2030. A study presenting nursing shortage statistics states that there are approximately 3.9 million registered nurses (RNs) in the United States, and about a quarter of those are 50 years old or older — so the next 15 years will see an influx of retiring RNs.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) also projects around 195,400 additional openings for RNs from 2021-2031. That means at least 1.2 million new nurses will be needed by 2030 to address the current shortage.

A Solution Emerges: Improving Falls Management with Inpatient Telehealth

Virtual nursing and AI-driven, inpatient telehealth technology will be vital in order to augment care and prevent falls. We are at a unique point in healthcare history, witnessing a pivot in the way care is being delivered, as well as our acceptance of that change — because it’s coming whether we like it or not!

Therefore, we can look at this nursing shortage as a crisis and barrier in our ability to manage patient falls, or alternatively, we can view it as an opportunity to provide solutions that make a real difference.
Keeping our seasoned nurses from leaving the care arena will help keep more eyes on patients and can be easily accomplished with this emerging technology.

Vitalchat’s Virtual Visits software can supplement staffing shortages with telehealth that connects remote care teams and specialists from anywhere. And, its AI-Enabled E-Sitter allows nurses to monitor up to 100 patient rooms at once — a revolutionary advancement compared to the typical dozen most other e-sitters offer — which leverages predictive analytics to detect falls before they even happen.

These solutions will allow providers to do more with less, use their talents more efficiently, spend more time at the bedside and, most importantly, avoid burnout.

Watch a demo and see our game-changing inpatient telehealth software in action — or reach out to Theresa at directly to find out how your healthcare environment can create the hospital room of the future, now.