Despite vast evidence describing risk factors associated with falls and fall prevention strategies, falls continue to present challenges in acute care settings.


To describe and categorize patient and nurse perspectives on falls and nurses’ suggestions for preventing falls.


To improve transparency about the causes of falls, nurses interviewed patients in a 48-bed progressive cardiac care unit who had experienced a fall. A content analysis approach was used to examine responses to 3 open-ended items: why patients said they fell, why nurses said the patients fell, and nurses’ reflections on how each fall could have been prevented.


Over a 2-year period, 67 falls occurred. Main themes regarding causes of falls were activity (41 falls, 61%), coordination (16 falls, 24%), and environment (10 falls, 15%). Patients said they fell because they slipped, had a medical issue, were dizzy, or had weak legs. Nurses said patients fell because they had a medical issue or did not call for assistance.


Nurses and patients agreed on the causes of assisted falls but disagreed on the causes of unassisted falls. Nurses frequently said that the use of a bed alarm could have prevented the fall.

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