Challenges and Conundrums In the Validation of Pediatric Fall Risk Assessment Tools
Nancy A. Ryan-Wenger, Judy Kimchi-Woods, Melanie A. Erbaugh, Lauren LaFollette, Janet Lathrop
The 10-item Pediatric Fall Risk Assessment (PFRA) was developed to evaluate patients at low- or high-risk for falling. To avoid the unnecessary use of resources for children not likely to fall, children evaluated as high-risk are targeted for more intensive fall prevention interventions. In a retrospective, case-control design, the precision, accuracy, and error rate of the PFRA with patients ages 1 month to 24 years were evaluated. Cases included children who fell (n = 326), and controls (n = 326) were children from the same cohort who did not fall. Inter-rater agreement (precision) on PFRA cut-off scores was 95.1%, but accuracy was unacceptably low due to 60% false-positive and 58.5% false-negative risk ratings. Neither the PFRA nor three other widely used pediatric fall risk scales have sufficient precision or accuracy to justify implementing or withholding a high-risk fall prevention protocol. Several logistic and methodological challenges must be addressed before further development of these tools.