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Innovative Socks Reduce Fall Incidents and Accidents

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 15 Mar 2018
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Image: The smart socks help nurses know when a patient is out of bed (Photo courtesy of Palarum).
Image: The smart socks help nurses know when a patient is out of bed (Photo courtesy of Palarum).
A new fall-prevention system can significantly reduce hospital patient falls and decrease nurses alarm fatigue through a smart notification system.

The Palarum (Lebanon, OH, USA) battery-powered PUP socks are designed with eTextile fabric; embedded in their nylon threads are conductive metal particles and elastomers. When a patient is on foot and unattended, a Bluetooth “beacon” system notifies the three closest nurses via a proprietary PUP smart watch and tablet that a patient is out of bed, walking unassisted, and at risk of falling. In addition to preventing falls, PUP socks can aid rehabilitation, physical therapy, and long-term care facilities, which aim to improve patient mobility. The socks are reusable, and can undergo 80 washing machine cycles.

In an eight-month functionality and utility study of PUP, conducted at a 50-bed acute care hospital in Ohio in 2017, a greater than 90% reduction in patient falls was reported. Over the study period, the fall rate was 0.00/1,000 patient days (0 falls) when the PUP patient smart socks were used as an adjunct to current fall-prevention interventions. A comparable patient population, which used only existing fall-prevention interventions, experienced a fall rate of 4.51/1,000 patient days (11 falls) during the same time period.

“PUP is a superior approach to reducing patient falls among high-risk patients, improving patient safety, reducing costs associated with falls and related injuries, and enhancing the overall hospital experience for patients, their families, and caregivers,” said Patrick Baker, CEO of Palarum. “Based on this initial effectiveness study of PUP, we plan to conduct a group randomized interventional study in a major Midwest academic medical center beginning in the first quarter of 2018.”

According to the World Health Organization (WHO; Geneva, Switzerland), an elderly person is seen every 11 seconds in an emergency room after a fall, and up to 30% of people over 65 and 50% of those over 80 fall at least once a year. The result of a majority of these falls is a hip fracture, with about 60,000 elderly people dying every year as a result of falls.

Related Links:
World Health Organization

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