Ambulance staff are to be trained in the use of a new screening tool to use when helping patients who have fallen – the most common type of incident paramedics in Scotland attend.
The Scottish Ambulance Service has launched the falls screening tool to help paramedics direct patients who have fallen or are at risk of falling to the most appropriate care and support and avoid unnecessary trips to emergency departments.
In 2019, staff attended over 62,000 incidents where someone had fallen, almost 12% of the Ambulance Service’s total demand.
The falls screening tool will help capture patients’ fall history, identify those at risk of falling again and decide whether they should be considered for a referral or additional support in their own homes.
Usually, most patients who fall at home are taken to A&E but that is not always the best place for them, according to the Ambulance Service.
Research has shown that attending A&E where it is not necessary can have detrimental effects on patients by quickly reducing their physical independence.
April Lochhead, Clinical Effectiveness Lead in Falls and Frailty with the Scottish Ambulance Service says the new screening tool is designed to be a conversation starter with patients about the fall that they have had, or concerns they may have about falling:
“If the patient answers yes to any of the questions asked, this suggests they are at risk of further falls and they may benefit from a falls assessment and possible community rehabilitation.
“The tool is an important step in enabling our staff to make sure patients are receiving the appropriate referral, ensuring they are receiving the right care at the right place.”