New patient chart to save 6,000 lives a year in the UK - Health News - Health & Families - The Independent

New patient chart to save 6,000 lives a year in the UK

Two Royal Medical Colleges introduce a new way to record patients' vital signs

For more than a century doctors have been recording patients' "vital signs" – temperature, blood pressure, heart rate – on the chart at the foot of the hospital bed, and then failing to act on what they found.

Yesterday, two UK Royal Medical Colleges became the first in the world to introduce a new way of displaying the measurements to compel action which is expected to halve avoidable deaths in hospital, saving at least 6,000 lives a year in the UK.

The simple innovation was described yesterday as a "step change" in patient safety. As well as saving lives it is expected to shorten hospital stays, improve the experience for patients and lower costs.

Experts compared it to the introduction of the surgical checklist in 2010 – a series of basic questions ("Is this the right patient?" "Is this the right limb?") – which has been shown to cut deaths after operations by a third, and complications by half. But producing the new chart with a National Early Warning Score – a composite measure of six vital signs that indicates when a patient needs urgent help – involved "banging heads together" across the NHS to get doctors to agree, according to Bryan Williams, the chair of the group that developed it. The professor of medicine at University College London, who first proposed the innovation in an earlier report in 2007, said there were at least 100 different hospital charts in use throughout the NHS with different scoring systems.

Doctors and nurses who moved between NHS trusts – or even between different wards in the same trust – found themselves confronted with a new chart and a different scoring system which they did not understand, putting patients at risk.

"Colleagues in various specialities developed early-warning systems of which they were justifiably proud and to which, in some cases, they were firmly wedded. But this was not just about 'What is the best system?' It was also about recognising the huge advantage of everyone using the same system," he said.

The six vital signs that comprise the score are temperature, pulse, breathing rate, blood pressure, blood-oxygen level and consciousness. The charts are colour-coded and any single measure that falls in a red zone – such as respiration below nine breaths a minute – should trigger a call to the medical team.

If the composite measure falls in the red zone, emergency assessment of the patient should be carried out by senior staff. A study published earlier this month found 1,000 patients a month were dying in NHS hospitals as a result of bungled care, most often because medical staff failed to spot or act on signs that patients were deteriorating.

Professor Williams said: "I think we could expect a 50 per cent reduction in morbidity and mortality as a result of implementing this.

"It is the first time in the world that anyone has tried to standardise the measurements [across all hospitals] in a healthcare system to drive up standards of care."

How the chart works

The observation chart records six vital signs, scored zero (low risk) to 3 (high risk), and is colour-coded to indicate when a danger level has been reached. If any single measure, e.g. temperature, is in the red zone, nurses must call a senior doctor to assess the patient.

In addition to recording each individual vital sign, the chart also displays a composite measure of all six – the National Early Warning Score. A patient with an overall score of zero to four is designated low risk and should be checked by a nurse every four to six hours. A score of seven or more indicates an emergency with immediate intervention by a specialist required.

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
News
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Senior QA Engineer - Agile, SCRUM

    £35000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior QA Engineer (Agil...

    Marketing Executive - West Midlands - £28,000

    £26000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Executive (SEO, PP...

    Retail Business Analyst

    £40000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our retail client ...

    Senior C++ Developer

    £400 - £450 Per Annum possibly more for the right candidate: Clearwater People...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week