If you have a loved one in the hospital, you should be aware of his or her fall risk. After all, despite often causing catastrophic injuries and even death, hospital falls are alarmingly common. In fact, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, more than 700,000 Americans fall in hospitals in the U.S. every single year.

To prevent falls, many hospitals have beds with exit alarms. Equipped beds sound an alarm every time patients attempt to leave their beds. While bed exit alarms are useful, they do not eliminate any patient’s fall risk.

How can bed exist alarms reduce fall risk?

When they work properly, bed exit alarms allow nurses and other caregivers to come into a patient’s room and help him or her move out of the bed safely. Likewise, they also tell hospital workers when patients are already out of their beds so workers can help them return to their beds.

Moreover, if a patient hears an alarm, he or she may decide to remain in bed instead of trying to get up. This can useful for those who tend either to misbehave in the hospital or ignore medical instructions.

When are bed exit alarms less useful?

As you probably know, hospitals can be hectic places. If nurses are too busy to respond to bed exit alarms, no alarm system is likely to be all that effective. Additionally, for corded alarms that attach to patient clothing, dangling wires can increase fall risk. This is especially true for unsupervised patients.

Ultimately, regardless of whether your loved one is in a bed that has an exit alarm, he or she must have regular supervision to avoid falling while in the hospital.