Hospital performance comparison of inpatient fall rates; the impact of risk adjusting for patient-related factors: a multicentre cross-sectional survey.

Bernet, Niklaus S; Everink, Irma Hj; Schols, Jos Mga; Halfens, Ruud Jg; Richter, Dirk; Hahn, Sabine (2022). Hospital performance comparison of inpatient fall rates; the impact of risk adjusting for patient-related factors: a multicentre cross-sectional survey. BMC health services research, 22(1), p. 225. BioMed Central 10.1186/s12913-022-07638-7

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Comparing inpatient fall rates can serve as a benchmark for quality improvement. To improve the comparability of performance between hospitals, adjustments for patient-related fall risk factors that are not modifiable by care are recommended. Thereafter, the remaining variability in risk-adjusted fall rates can be attributed to differences in quality of care provided by a hospital. Research on risk-adjusted fall rates and their impact on hospital comparisons is currently sparse. Therefore, the aims of this study were to develop an inpatient fall risk adjustment model based on patient-related fall risk factors, and to analyse the impact of applying this model on comparisons of inpatient fall rates in acute care hospitals in Switzerland.


Data on inpatient falls in Swiss acute care hospitals were collected on one day in 2017, 2018 and 2019, as part of an annual multicentre cross-sectional survey. After excluding maternity and outpatient wards, all inpatients older than 18 years were included. Two-level logistic regression models were used to construct unadjusted and risk-adjusted caterpillar plots to compare inter-hospital variability in inpatient fall rates.


One hundred thirty eight hospitals and 35,998 patients were included in the analysis. Risk adjustment showed that the following factors were associated with a higher risk of falling: increasing care dependency (to a great extent care dependent, odds ratio 3.43, 95% confidence interval 2.78-4.23), a fall in the last 12 months (OR 2.14, CI 1.89-2.42), the intake of sedative and or psychotropic medications (OR 1.74, CI 1.54-1.98), mental and behavioural disorders (OR 1.55, CI 1.36-1.77) and higher age (OR 1.01, CI 1.01-1.02). With odds ratios between 1.26 and 0.67, eight further ICD-10 diagnosis groups were included. Female sex (OR 0.78, CI 0.70-0.88) and postoperative patients (OR 0.83, CI 0.73-0.95) were associated with a lower risk of falling. Unadjusted caterpillar plots identified 20 low- and 3 high-performing hospitals. After risk adjustment, 2 low-performing hospitals remained.


Risk adjustment of inpatient fall rates could reduce misclassification of hospital performance and enables a fairer basis for decision-making and quality improvement measures. Patient-related fall risk factors such as care dependency, history of falls and cognitive impairment should be routinely assessed.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > University Psychiatric Services > Department of Nursing and Education

UniBE Contributor:

Richter, Dirk




BioMed Central




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Date Deposited:

21 Feb 2022 07:22

Last Modified:

27 Feb 2022 01:57

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Uncontrolled Keywords:

Accidental Falls Benchmarking Cross-Sectional Studies Hospitals Inpatients Quality Improvement Risk Adjustment Risk Factors




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