[Skip to Navigation]
Teachable Moment
Less Is More
June 2016

False Bed Alarms: A Teachable Moment

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, St Louis University, St Louis, Missouri
JAMA Intern Med. 2016;176(6):741-742. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.1885

A 67-year-old woman presented to outpatient interventional radiology for computed tomography (CT)-guided biopsy of a suspicious lung nodule found on screening CT. The procedure was complicated by a pneumothorax requiring chest tube placement, and she was admitted to the hospital. Prior to admission, the patient was independent in all daily activities, lived in an apartment alone, and had no history of falls. As part of the admission process, the nursing staff assessed the patient’s risk for falling with the Morse Fall Scale, scoring her at 35. With this level, she qualified as “at risk” for falls, and a bed alarm was instituted. The medicine team entered the room the next day on rounds and found the patient unhappy and frustrated with her hospital stay. She stated “I feel like I’m in jail,” referring to the bed alarm. “I can’t sit up or go to the bathroom without them coming after me.” The patient was soon discharged—no fall or adverse event occurred during hospitalization.

Add or change institution