King County and EvergreenHealth Join Forces to Reduce Falls in the Home

Jul 02, 2012, 17:51 ET from EvergreenHealth

KIRKLAND, Wash., July 2, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The risk of suffering a serious injury from a fall is an unfortunate reality for many elderly people in King County, with more than 14 percent of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) responses for patients age 65 and older attributed to falls in the home. In order to prevent future falls, EvergreenHealth and King County EMS are collaborating to provide assistance to elderly community members.

In King County, there are more accidental deaths each year among adults 65 and older attributed to falls than there are deaths attributed to motor vehicle accidents among the same group. Two of the strongest risk factors for falls are older age and prior history of falls.

King County EMS' One Step Ahead program provides free assistance to patients who experience trauma due to a fall and are seen at a local emergency room, such as EvergreenHealth's locations in Kirkland and Redmond. The program provides an in-home assessment to determine each patient's risk factors and to implement ways to eliminate or reduce that risk from causing another fall.

"Almost half of the emergency department trauma visits we see from patients over 65 years old are a result of falls," said Dr. Brad Younggren, medical director of EvergreenHealth Emergency Preparedness. "It's during this visit that we tell them about One Step Ahead and ask them if they would like to be contacted by the program. We've seen some great results with our patients who participate."

In a study of the program by King County EMS, a division of Public Health – Seattle & King County, program participants experienced 36 percent less risk of suffering a fall in the home than those not enrolled in the program.

"To successfully prevent the next fall, you need to identify which specific risk factors each individual may have," said Alan Abe, program manager for Injury Prevention at King County EMS. "One Step Ahead uses successful fall-prevention strategies that match the individual's risks with specific interventions so that the individual receives a personal program."

This in-home program provides:

  • education about staying safe in the home
  • a home safety walk-through
  • assistance with in-home safety devices
  • information about resources available in the community

After the patient has opted into the program, the intervention specialist meets with that participant at home to identify the exact set of risk factors and to design a prevention action plan. The specialist evaluates the individual's physical balance and strength, surveys the home for fall hazards, and reviews medical conditions and medications in order to customize the action plan.

The intervention specialist also frequently arranges for the installation of safety equipment around the home to reduce fall risk.

To qualify for the program, patients need to be older than age 65, ambulatory, living independently, at risk for a fall or have fallen in the past six months, not suffering from Alzheimer's or any other form of dementia, and not living in subsidized housing, retirement facilities or nursing homes.

To learn more about EvergreenHealth, visit or call the Evergreen Healthline, 425.899.3000. 

About EvergreenHealth

EvergreenHealth, a public hospital district and community-based health care organization established in 1972, offers a breadth of services and programs that is among the most comprehensive in the region. More than 950 physicians provide clinical excellence within more than 80 specialties, including cardiac, oncology, surgical care, orthopedics, a neuroscience institute, women's and children's services, hospice care, pulmonary care, a sleep disorders center and home care services. EvergreenHealth serves more than 400,000 residents in its primary service area of northern King and southern Snohomish counties with EvergreenHealth Primary Care, a network of primary and urgent care practices, and its main hospital campus in Kirkland, Wash. EvergreenHealth also provides emergency care at two sites: its main hospital campus and the EvergreenHealth Redmond Medical Center. In addition to clinical care, EvergreenHealth offers extensive community health outreach and education programs, anchored by EvergreenHealth Nurse Navigators and Healthline, a 24/7 nurse consultation service. For more information, visit

About King County Emergency Medical Services

King County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) operates in a coordinated partnership with four dispatch centers, six paramedic providers, and 35 fire departments. Funded through a countywide EMS/Medic One Levy, King County EMS utilizes a layered-response system providing a continuum of care for people in need of emergency medical services. For more information on King County EMS, visit


Ken LeBlond
Program Manager – Public Relations

Matias Valenzuela
Public Health – Seattle & King County / King County EMS

SOURCE EvergreenHealth