Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Day Late And A Dollar Short by Dr. A. R. Scopelliti

The only thing worse than someone who suffers with fall risk and not doing anything about it, is someone who does do something about it but waits too long and ends up suffering the consequences of a fall. This is so disheartening to see as we help so many people with severe fall risk to improve their quality of life, their safety and their ability to live normally again. Why I am I telling you this? Because I saw a new patient recently for the first time, who was referred to my clinic for dizziness and imbalance. Unfortunately for several years up to this point nothing had been done for this patient with respect to her imbalance. By the time I saw her she had already been suffering for years, and steadily worsening. You might say that I had my work cut out for me, however, I was confident that I could help this individual. Well, I received a telephone call earlier this week from a family member of this individual, informing me that over the weekend she had fallen, fracturing her hip. She is currently hospitalized, where she will likely remain for quite some time, awaiting surgery for her fractured hip, which, may never even be done depending on whether or not she is determined to be of adequate health or not to even be a surgical candidate. If she does not have the surgery, the likelihood of her waking again is not good, and if she does, it will be quite some time and effort, as well as much pain, before she may ever walk again.

Obviously the unfortunate circumstances here are that we could have prevented this fall had I seen this patient more timely. There are so many people waking around that have increased fall risk, some who realize it as their imbalance has already gotten severe, and some who have a false sense of confidence because they don’t yet know that their balance is deteriorating.

My office tests individuals for risk of fall daily. The test takes seconds to perform and is done free. It is extremely accurate at predicting fall likelihood based on overall stability, and is in accordance with hospital mandates requiring front line providers to have some methodology for screening individual patients for fall risk. For these reasons, everyone, without exception, should be evaluated. If you pass, you go on with your life. If you do not pass, wouldn’t you like to know that before you fall and break a hip?