Physical Design Factors Contributing to Patient Falls

Debajyoti Pati, Shabboo Valipoor, Aimee Cloutier, James Yang, Patricia Freier, Thomas E. Harvey, Jaehoon Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e135-e142
JournalJournal of Patient Safety
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 1 2021


Dive into the research topics of 'Physical Design Factors Contributing to Patient Falls'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this