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Automation of Manchester early warning system improves patient safety

Sarah InglebyClinicians say their work has been speeded up and patient safety improved via use of special handhelds that are making it easier to input important data.

"This technology flags patients at risk of deteriorating, and automatically alerts medical staff," said Sarah Ingleby, lead nurse for the Acute Care Team and hospital at night.

The technology in question is a system called Patientrack that she says "supports our clinical processes" and which seems to be making a real contribution.

For example, Central Manchester has seen a 50% reduction in cardiac arrests, lower risk of mortality for out of hours' admissions, and reduced critical care length of stay, she adds - as well as patients benefiting from improved observations accuracy, early warning score response rates, and faster clinical attendance.

The system, now fully embedded throughout all in-patient areas in 55 wards in adult and children's hospitals across the trust, helps nurses better deliver an early warning system that was first introduced in Central Manchester in 2000 and which as subsequently been extended by a process of feedback and localisation.

Improved access to rich, real-time data

Central Manchester's informatics team helped ensure the patient observation process happens seamlessly across all six of the busy trust's sites, with just one attendance and patient record maintained in Patientrack. This benefits the patient, as all their sets of observations are maintained for the duration of their care with Ingleby's team, she says.

"At ward level, nurses love how much they can get done via automating the early warning system like this," she adds. "They know that the system will help automatically escalate up if there are any warning signs. Higher up, clinical management teams now have better access to very rich, real-time data that means they can immediately tell from their monitors what's happening with every patient.

"We're getting so much more information to audit and improve practice here," she concludes.