Skip to main content

When Implementation Fails: The Case of a Nursing Guideline for Fall Prevention

Buy Article:

$12.00 plus tax (Refund Policy)


Background: Implementing guidelines can be very difficult. No magic bullet or step-by-step implementation plan is available, neither is any single implementation strategy superior. At the Academic Medical Center (AMC) in Amsterdam, a nursing guideline was developed in 1993 on prevention of patient falls. Falls decreased by 30% on six wards, yet an effort to implement the guideline into daily practice throughout the hospital failed. A renewed effort was made to implement the guideline in two wards (neurology and internal medicine) in 1999.

Implementing the Guideline: Preparations were made for implementation in the two wards. Barriers to change were identified and solutions were translated into day-to-day activities in the wards. The intervention period covered 18 months (January 2000–June 2001). A mix of implementation strategies was used, including a local consensus process, educational activities, and active support and feedback to management and staff.

Results: In the internal medicine ward, the target incidence of 6% was met for four of the 18 months in the intervention period. In the neurology ward, the incidence target of 11% was met in five months.

Discussion: Barriers to change and enabling factors may only become apparent during the implementation process itself. A strongly perceived need to change daily practice, a simple guideline, the hospital board's support, an understanding of local barriers, monitoring of outcomes, a locally tailored multifaceted implementation strategy, and voluntarily cooperating nurses are no guarantees for success.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2006-03-01

More about this publication?
  • The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety will be published by Elsevier beginning in 2017! For readers who receive access to the journal through their institutions, the journal can now be found on ScienceDirect ( For librarians looking to subscribe to the journal for their institutions please contact your Elsevier Account Manager or visit for more information. All other readers, please visit to subscribe to the journal or to claim your access for an existing subscription.
  • Editorial Board
  • Information for Authors
  • Subscribe to this Title
  • Information for Advertisers
  • Reprints and Permissions
  • Index
  • Ingenta Connect is not responsible for the content or availability of external websites
  • Access Key
  • Free content
  • Partial Free content
  • New content
  • Open access content
  • Partial Open access content
  • Subscribed content
  • Partial Subscribed content
  • Free trial content
Cookie Policy
Cookie Policy
Ingenta Connect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more