Toileting privacy screen

Lead investigator: Jeshahnton Essex, FACHE, Regional Vice President, Administration, Main Line Health

Unmet need

Falling is a significant cause of mortality or injury among post-surgical patients, the elderly, and infirm, especially within a hospital or a caregiving facility. In-patient falls cost U.S. health systems over $34 billion annually.(1)

Despite the prevalence of fall-reduction programs in hospitals, fall rates in U.S. hospitals range from 3.3 to 11.5 falls per 1,000 patient days. Multiple internal and external studies show falls and the resulting injuries very frequently occur in the bathroom during toileting activities. On average, patients who sustain a fall while at the hospital incur costs over $13,000 greater than patients who do not fall.(2) With implementation of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service No-Pay Policy for expenses related to hospital-acquired falls, hospitals are responsible for all fall-related costs.

Currently fall-reduction programs in hospitals use many protocols and technologies to mitigate patients’ falling risk. This includes the use of a grading system to access a patient’s falling risk, the use of handrails in at-risk areas, and supervising patients during toileting activities. The latter can be seen as an invasion of privacy, and thus many at-risk patients refuse supervision, greatly increasing the chances of a fall occurring.(3)

A need exists for a device that allows for patients to be supervised in the bathroom while also maintaining their privacy.

The Essex privacy screen achieves both. The device consists of an inexpensive, adjustable and expandable screen with sensors that can be integrated into a bathroom so as to surround the toilet. Additionally, at the top of the screen is a collapsible, lightweight sensor bar. This sensor bar would detect any attempt by the patient to get up from the toilet and walk back to his or her bed unsupervised. The screen component provides patients with privacy during toileting activities, making them more likely to consent to supervision in the bathroom. The sensor bar acts as a fail-safe, so even if the caregiver were out of sight, the sensor would alert him or her to the patient’s attempt to self-ambulate.


Injuries and death due to falls are a serious challenge that every hospital in the world faces. An estimated 1 million falls occur in North American hospitals annually. Hospitals recognize this substantial financial burden and have overwhelmingly invested in fall-reduction programs.

The Essex privacy screen leverages the existing fall-reduction infrastructure of hospitals and expands on it. Patient supervision during toileting activities by a healthcare professional is highly effective at preventing falls when consented to. The main barrier to patient supervision is privacy. This device greatly reduces privacy concerns and provides additional safety for the unsupervised. With over 5,000 active hospitals in the United States, and more than 19,000 globally, market size is considerable. The Essex privacy screen will seamlessly integrate into already existing protocols and greatly improve compliance with hospital fall-reduction programs, providing immense savings for minimal investment.

Unique attributes

  • Flexible, expandable, and adjustable screen made from easy-to-clean, durable material or disposable materials for easy replacement
  • Adjustable, lightweight sensor bar that can be fitted for any restroom capable of providing notice of any attempt by a patient to self-ambulate

Clinical applications

Suitable for use in all hospital care settings, as well as broader healthcare settings where patient privacy during toileting activities is of concern.

Stage of development

Conceptual prototype.

Intellectual property

Provisional patent applied for May 2020.

Collaboration opportunity

Seeking investment or partner for further development.


Institutional contact: George C. Prendergast, PhD, LIMR President and CEO, 484.476.8475, [email protected]

L2C Partners contact: Merle Gilmore, 610.662.0940, [email protected]


  1. Falls Cost U.S. Hospitals $34 billion in Direct Medical Costs. Johns Hopkins Medicine Healthcare Solution. April 22, 2015.
  2. Falls Among Adult Patients Hospitalized in the United States: Prevalence and Trends. Bouldin EL, et al. J Patient Saf. 2013 Mar;9(1):13-7.
  3. Internal study.