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Preventing falls in outpatient areas


The staff of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital wants you to know that certain situations and medical conditions can increase your child’s risk for falling. The risk for falling is greater in the hospital than it is at home because of your child’s growth and development, medicines, toileting needs, and use of different kinds of equipment. It is important for you to know these risks and to take action to prevent your child from being injured.

Patients with an increased risk of falling

  • Those who have recently had a procedure that involved anesthesia or sedation (sleeping medicine)
  • Patients with a mental status change or those who have become less alert or have less feeling in their feet because of their illness or treatments (such as those with a disease of the brain or nervous system or those receiving treatments such as some chemotherapy or radiation)
  • Patients with a history of falling
  • Patients with seizure disorders
  • Patients who take certain medicines
  • Patients who have lost or gained weight over a short period of time
  • Patients who have problems walking such as those with stiff joints, tight muscles, or leg weakness, and those using canes, crutches, walkers, or wheelchairs

Taking precautions

If your child develops any of the risk factors above, the staff will take these precautions to help decrease the chance of your child falling:

  • Keep the side rails of the stretcher bed up and make sure a family member or staff member is present anytime your child is on a stretcher bed
  • Orient your child when he arrives in a new area of the hospital or one that he has not visited often
  • Not allow your child to play, stand, or “ride” on rolling stools, chairs, or IV poles
  • Have a family member or staff person present at all times when your child is on an exam table
  • Provide help when your child is getting on or off a treatment or exam table and encourage your child not to play or climb on countertops or chairs
  • Have a family member or staff person stay with your child after waking up from sedation or anesthesia
  • Encourage your child to not get up and walk around too soon after sedation
  • Use a wheelchair or wagon if your child’s gait (walk) is still unsteady after sedation or anesthesia
  • Provide help when your child is moving from a wheelchair or wagon to the toilet, exam table, or stretcher bed
  • Have your child use crutches, a wheelchair, a walker, or a cane if physical therapy has provided these items

Other ways to prevent falls in the outpatient area

  • Encourage your child to walk instead of run, skip, or jump.
  • Ask your child to go slowly down steps and hold on to the rail.
  • Have your child wear shoes that resist slipping and provide support when walking.
  • Watch your child closely in the lobby or play areas.
  • Avoid wearing shoes like Crocs® or flip-flops that tend to stick to the floor, causing people to trip over their own feet. Also avoid wearing Heelys® (shoes with wheels)
  • If foot braces have been prescribed, encourage your child to wear them.
  • When walking on snow or ice, wear shoes or boots with rubber or neoprene soles that offer traction.
  • Please tell the staff if you see a wet or slippery area, or any hazard that could cause someone to fall.
  • Talk to your child’s doctor, pharmacist, or nurse about medicines that could increase the risk of falls.

If your child falls

If your child falls anywhere on hospital property, please tell your primary clinic staff as soon as possible. The clinic staff will check your child for injuries.


This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.

St. Jude complies with health care-related federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.

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