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Foot Pathology and Inappropriate Footwear as Risk Factors for Falls in a Subacute Aged-Care Hospital

Rebecca L. Jessup Department of Podiatry, Northern Health, 1231 Plenty Rd, Bundoora, Victoria 3084, Australia.

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Background: Falls are a major clinical problem in the hospital setting. This study examined the prevalence of foot pathology and footwear type likely to increase the risk of falls in two subacute-care hospital wards serving elderly patients.

Methods: Two wards of a subacute aged-care hospital were selected for study. Patients were assessed for the presence of foot pathology, and their footwear was evaluated for characteristics identified in the literature as placing individuals at increased risk of falls.

Results: Of 44 patients assessed, 98% had foot pathology, and 41% had foot pathology requiring podiatric medical management. Eighty-six percent of inpatients wore footwear that was likely to increase their risk of falls, with 66% wearing slippers or moccasins.

Conclusions: The results of this study demonstrate the need for hospital inpatients who are identified as being at high risk for falling, or have a history of falls, to undergo an assessment of their foot pathology and footwear so that appropriate measures can be taken to address these risk factors. (J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 97(3): 213–217, 2007)