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Defusing fears over falls assessment

I was delighted to read Professor Swift's article 'Identifying risk can reduce fall rates'.

This comes as a counter argument to those who think that falls assessment is in the ‘too hard to do' box.

Professor Swift points out that, although the cause of a patient's fall may be complex, the application of routine history taking, examination and basic laboratory tests are fundamental in determining the cause.

Following the National Service Framework for Older People, most PCTs have access to a secondary care falls service to aid diagnosis and management of individuals.

It comes as a surprise to me that this service is underused.

At a time when most primary care teams are concentrating on achieving high QOF points, this article defuses the fear that falls assessment is too complicated and time consuming.

I would encourage my colleagues to study the ‘patient referral and care pathway' in the article (see below) to decide who within the primary care team could fit in where.

It was interesting to see the interventions that were not recommended by NICE, because of insufficient evidence, as well as those strategies that were recommended.

Those who fall may present to different members of the team, particularly the nursing staff. We have also found, by internal audit, that information on falls is not entered on our computer network in a systematic fashion.

I expect to use this article as a resource for practice-based education.

Dr Tom Fryatt, GP, Spondon, Derby

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