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Simple change in charts could save thousands of lives

View profile for Judith Thomas-Whittingham
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A recent study performed by the Royal College of Physicians has estimated that thousands of hospital deaths could be prevented each year if patient observation charts are standardised. The study, which looked at hospitals throughout the country, has discovered that there are over a 100 different types of observation chart used to monitor patients’ vital signs, including pulse, temperature and blood pressure. 

The Royal College of Physicians has therefore developed a standardised chart which can be used for all patients in hospitals throughout the UK. The new standardised chart will enable clinicians to give each patient a score depending on their pulse, temperature and blood pressure. If the score is too low, the severity of the patient’s condition can be instantly recognised and further treatment can be given.

The vital signs of all patients are already regularly monitored, however, a deterioration in their condition is not always recognised due to the ad hoc system of observation charts which are currently in place. It is hoped that this new simple scoring system or “National Early Warning Score” will provide more effective monitoring for patients and ensure earlier access to appropriate treatment.

By Gemma Crompton