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The (resounding) truth about patient Anti-Fall Monitors: some alert systems are fail-safe while others simply fail.

Some long term care facilities have been known to engage in a dangerous and illegal practice of purchasing personal alarms from local vendors and converting them into pull string, patient fall monitors to save money.

These personal alarms are legitimately made for people who purchase them to scare away would-be attackers. The device uses a pin that, when pulled out of its position, sounds a loud alarm.

In an effort to save money, some LTC facilities purchase these personal alarms instead of medical grade Anti-Fall Monitors and attach them to a resident's bed or wheelchair with a tether. One end of the tether attached to the device's pull-pin and the other end to the resident's garment. When the resident gets out of bed or out of a wheelchair, they pull the tether, yanking the pin from its position and sounding the alarm.

Using these non-medical grade alerts puts residents at risk for strangulation. These personal alarm conversions do not allow for a multidirectional release of the pull-pin. Therefore, if a resident turns in bed, the tether may pull the pin out. Instead, the tether becomes taut and chokes the patient.

In addition, personal alarms are considerably louder than medical-grade, anti-fall monitors because they are designed to scare away a would be perpetrator. OSHA regulations call for an 88 decibel limit on anti-fall monitors. Converted personal alarms sound off at around 110 decibels.

Lastly, personal alarms are not built for the rigors and sustained use typical of most long term care facilities. They break easily and are not always reliable for purposes of patient fall monitoring So, these conversions often don't result in any cost savings over medical-grade, anti-fall alerts. Most importantly, a legitimate anti-fall alert, can better protect a resident from harm and your facility from an expensive lawsuit.
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Title Annotation:Sound Off
Author:Long, Timothy
Publication:Contemporary Long Term Care
Date:Feb 1, 2004
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