In central Wisconsin, the ice and snow season logically leads to an increase in the number of “elderly patient has fallen, possible broken hip” calls. When responding to patients with a suspected broken hip, remember these tips:
1. The patient is often already in a relative position of comfort. Wait to move the patient until you have a plan and resources to make the move. This will also minimize your risk of injury.
2. Geriatric patients have decreased thermoregulatory responses. The patient is likely conducting heat into a cold floor. Covering the patient does not stop the downward conductive heat loss. Move the patient on to a warm blanket(s) and/or padded backboard to minimize the heat loss.
3. If authorized, follow your local protocols to begin pharmacological pain management before moving the patient. If IV access is difficult due to the patient’s position on the ground or cramped quarters consider IM administration.
4. Minimize movement of the patient’s injured leg and hip by using available materials like pillows and draw sheets to buddy splint the patient’s legs together.
5. When it is time to move the patient, assign one person to focus on stabilizing the injured hip and not participate in the lift.
What do you do to minimize pain and improve comfort for a patient with an unstable hip injury from a fall?
Do you see an increase in fall during the winter?
How is your service involved in fall prevention programs?