Physical Design Factors Contributing to Patient Falls.

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

J Patient Saf


texas; lubbock; covenant; Female; Humans; Male; Toilet Facilities; Video Recording


OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to identify physical design elements that contribute to potential falls in patient rooms.

METHODS: An exploratory, physical simulation-based approach was adopted for the study. Twenty-seven subjects, older than 70 years (11 male and 16 female subjects), conducted scripted tasks in a mockup of a patient bathroom and clinician zone. Activities were captured using motion-capture technology and video recording. After biomechanical data processing, video clips associated with potential fall moments were extracted and then examined and coded by a group of registered nurses and health care designers. Exploratory analyses of the coded data were conducted followed by a series of multivariate analyses using regression models.

RESULTS: In multivariate models with all personal, environmental, and postural variables, only the postural variables demonstrated statistical significance-turning, grabbing, pushing, and pulling in the bathroom and pushing and pulling in the clinician zone. The physical elements/attributes associated with the offending postures include bathroom configuration, intravenous pole, door, toilet seat height, flush, grab bars, over-bed table, and patient chair.

CONCLUSIONS: Postural changes, during interactions with the physical environment, constitute the source of most fall events. Physical design must include simultaneous examination of postural changes in day-to-day activities in patient rooms and bathrooms. Among discussed testable recommendations in the article, the followings design strategies should be considered: (a) designing bathrooms to reduce turning as much as possible and (b) designing to avoid motions that involve 2 or more of the offending postures, such as turning and grabbing or grabbing and pulling, and so on.