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Better NHS IT could avoid 16,000 deaths

18 October 2011   Jon Hoeksma

Better use of advanced clinical information technology in England's hospitals could help prevent 16,000 deaths a year, according to figures cited in a new report.

University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust includes the figure, based on its own experience, in a report submitted to the public inquiry into high death rates and poor care at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust between 2005 and 2009.

The trust says that use of its locally developed PICS clinical system, now offered commercially with CSE Healthcare, has led to a 17% fall in deaths among emergency patients over 12 months, which would equate to 16,000 deaths prevented across England.

Other key patient benefits set out in the report include using clinical IT systems to closely monitor and reduce medical errors, particularly missed medications. Evidence suggests that hospitals may miss one dose in every five.

The system running at University Hospitals Birmingham provides staff with automated reminders to give patients their prescribed drugs to ensure patients get the drugs they have been prescribed.

The same system also includes prescribing decision support and safety alerts that issue warnings to prevent doctors and nurses accidently giving prescriptions which could harm the patient.

As a result of introducing the system and rigorously policing its use the trust says the number of medication errors has been halved at Birmingham University Hospitals.

The trust report says this fall in medication errors has significantly improved patient safety and also led to a sharp fall in deaths for patients admitted as an emergency.

Clinicians and managers each have a personal dashboard that shows them key indicators that matter most to them.

This includes missed medications and other clinical activities that are monitored on University Hospitals Birmingham's computer database. It also includes falls, checks for blood-clots and infection control.

The system also generates automatic alarms and alerts 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.

Where mistakes arise, the real-time feedback to senior executives enables them to call staff to account, with regular reviews to assess and explain performance.

Trust medical director, Dr Dave Rosser, told the BBC that one in five doses of a drug is not given to a patient in hospital.

"It has become over the decades culturally acceptable for drugs not to be given to patients, and what we've been trying to do here is turn round that culture and say every single dose is important."

Dr Rosser added that if his trust's approach was adopted across the NHS, this would equate to 16,000 deaths avoided.


Related Articles:

News: Birmingham on slipway with Oceano | 12 October 2011
3 Insight: EHI focus on: University Hospitals Birmingham | 12 October 2011
1 News: All Birmingham patients to get MyHealth | 11 October 2011
1 Insight: Even better than the real thing | 9 June 2011
4 News: Univ Birmingham sells data analysis tool | 30 September 2011
Last updated: 24 October 2011 16:03

© 2011 EHealth Media.


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The broader cost of poor IT

just_instantiate 165 weeks ago

Most interesting would be to know the consequences, in deaths avoided per annum, if the elimination of workaday inefficiencies of the NHS could be converted into direct patient care. I'm talking about HR, logistics, non-clinical patient administration etc.. My suspicion is that it would dwarf the direct benefit of avoiding, say, drug errors. Controversial proposition: the problem of the NHS is the over-emphasis of the electronic patient record at the expense of an enterprise approach to IT.


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Remind staff to care for patients

ernstn 165 weeks ago

A sad indictment of standards of care in the NHS that staff need 'reminding' to give prescribed drugs. Should they not be asking why their staff are not doing so in the first place? What's next, reminders to feed patients, reminders to give them fluids, reminders to talk to them?


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Automation and IT is not all of the answer - but it is part of it

HCSCX 164 weeks ago

Without a culture of care for the individual, no system of care can ever succeed. But sometimes busy people need reminders and there should be the ability to audit and ensure that people are given medication when they need it. Security guards have to "clock in" at specific points to ensure and prove they have physciially inspected areas of a building. Why should nurses not have the same tools? If a hospital could prove that they had given the correct care to a patient it might also help reduce their payments to the NHS Litigation Authority.


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Compatibility with other CSE Products

CertaCitrus 165 weeks ago

Would be interested to see if this will integrate with other CSE products such as RiO.


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SCR basics

P Millares Martin 165 weeks ago

Sharing information on medicines and allergies, the basics of the controversial and politised Summary Care Record program is aiming to allow the thousands avoidance of death by making medicine safer, more precise.

Medicine is not maths, and the more information available, the more likely you will get the right result.


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What will happen RBAC

Ehealthwarrior 165 weeks ago

Apologies if i've got my facts wrong but if connecting for health is dissolved over the next few years who will lead on RA?


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