Wireless ‘smart socks’ alert nurses when patient tries to get up unassisted

Each year in the United States, 700,000 to 1 million patients fall while hospitalized

Each year in the United States, 700,000 to 1 million patients fall while hospitalized, according to estimates by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. More than a third of these falls result in fractures or head trauma.

Ohio State University Brain and Spine Hospital has reduced that number to zero in one group by outfitting the patients with smart socks. The footwear alerts nurses when a patient tries to get out of bed without help. Before the socks, Cleveland.com reported, the hospital averaged four falls per 1,000 patient days.

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The PUP (Patient is UP) Smart Socks have pressure sensors that alert the closest nurses when a patient tris to stand up.

“This alerting mechanism is more reliable and more accurate, and helps nurses get in there in time to help prevent those patients from falling,” Palarum CEO & founder Patrick Baker told Cleveland.com.

How do they work? When the socks are triggered, they alert the three closest nurses via a special badge. The badge is deactivated when the nurse enters the room. If these nurses don’t respond, others are notified.

According to the Ohio State study, the median response time of nurses was 24 seconds.

“It was great that no one fell, but I was probably just as equally impressed with the fact that our staff were responding to these alarms so much quicker,” the study’s senior investigator, Tammy Moore, told Cleveland.com. Moore is associate chief nurse of Ohio State’s Neurological Institute and Medical Surgical. “We definitely have more study to do with this. But we were highly encouraged by what we saw.”

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Another advantage of the socks is their cost. According to Baker, the socks cost about $11 a day per patient. Video monitors, on the other hand, cost about $300 a day, while patient sitters can charge as much as $960 a day.

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