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6,000 lives could be saved by standardised bedside health chart

View profile for Judith Thomas-Whittingham
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The Telegraph has recently reported that as many as 6,000 deaths which are attributable to miscalculated deterioration of a patient’s condition could be prevented if a standard bedside health chart was introduced.

The report by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) says the charts are vital in detecting a patient’s deterioration however, they assert that the health charts are not designed properly and leave many hospital staff confused as there are more than 100 different types of chart which are used across the country.

A working group set up by the College are calling for just one system to be used whether they are in care homes, hospitals or in ambulances. They have developed a new chart which they are campaigning to have rolled out across all hospitals in the UK. The new chart could enable doctors to intervene much more promptly and save thousands of lives every year.

The chart uses a ‘traffic light’ observation system of 6 vital signs such as blood pressure, temperature, breathing rate, pulse, level of consciousness and oxygen saturation. Each observation is given a score which would then be totalled up to give an indication of the patient’s severity and whether they need more urgent care.

The Patients Association has reportedly welcomed the new chart system confirming it should be implemented ‘urgently.’

The Department of Health is not making the new ‘traffic light’ system compulsory, but instead letting hospital managers decide whether they wish to change to the new system.

The Medical Director of the NHS has welcomed the new system and has stated: “Catching deterioration in the early stages can mean huge improvements in patient safety and outcomes. The score offers an opportunity for the NHS to standardise how it monitors a patient’s condition across different healthcare settings.”

By clinical negligence specialist, Sarah Fairclough

 

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