'Reminder IT' in Hospitals Could Save Thousands of Lives
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University Hospitals Birmingham has recommended its system to the team investigating above-average death rates from 2005 to 2008 at Stafford Hospital. The trust says it saw a 17% fall in deaths among emergency patients over 12 months.
The report shows how the trust has harnessed IT to bear down on errors, with the initial focus on preventing missed medications. Evidence suggests that hospitals may miss one dose in every five.
Staff at the trust are issued with computer-generated reminders, and the system also issues warnings to prevent prescriptions which could harm the patient. The number of medication errors at the trust has halved, which has coincided with a sharp fall in deaths for patients admitted as an emergency, the report says.
Missed medications are just one of many clinical activities that are monitored on University Hospitals Birmingham's computer database, and presented to staff on the wards on a dashboard display. It also includes falls, checks for blood-clots and infection control.
The system also generates alarms when staff key-in clinical information that could give cause for concern, such as changes to a patient's temperature, heart rate, or blood pressure. This triggers an alert in the critical care Unit, prompting an outreach team to be dispatched to wherever they are needed in the hospital.
Liz Miller, Matron, in the unit says "A good nurse ensures that all of the care is given to the patient. Not just the medication, not just the fluid, but also the personal hygiene, those nursing touches, the communication with the patients. How well she gives her medication and how on time she gives her medication is a good barometer of the all-round care that she gives." I could not agree more.
Solicitor - Clinical Negligence Team
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