NHS Fife has seen a reduction of up to two thirds in cardiac arrests, after becoming the first health board in Scotland to launch a new electronic early warning system in its main Kirkcaldy hospital.
Heart attacks have fallen dramatically in one of the busiest hospital areas after only six months of using the new Patientrack technology at Victoria Hospital.
The new system means that, for the first time, doctors and nurses can instantly see and give priority to the sickest patients in the hospital, and are automatically alerted to intervene if any issues arise.
Dr Gavin Simpson, consultant in critical care and anaesthetics at NHS Fife, who led the deployment of Patientrack at NHS Fife, said: “Any clinician can now instantly see the profiles of the sickest patients in the hospital. It has helped us introduce some of the biggest and most immediate changes in clinical practice I have ever seen. There are warning signs before cardiac arrests. The key is to pick them up quickly, that is what Patientrack allows.
“It has helped us achieve a significant reduction in cardiac arrests in one of the busiest areas of the hospital, by up to two thirds.
“Moving forward, Patientrack has the potential to address a range of clinical problems faced by hospitals across Scotland.”
The technology works by ensuring that crucial observations are not missed and allows nurses to capture vital signs digitally at the bedside.
Patientrack then accurately calculates the patient’s early warning score and automatically calls doctors to intervene when signs of deterioration are present.
It continues to escalate calls until patients receive an appropriate response.
This has already meant that nurses using it at the Vic no longer need to phone for doctors to attend, and can better prioritise patients on the ward.
Marie Paterson, senior charge nurse in the cardiac care unit, said: “Patientrack is a really useful tool and assists us to keep patients safe. It helps the nurse in charge to see where the deteriorating patients are being nursed, which is really helpful when organising teams. It allows them to check that these patients are receiving the appropriate care and to give advice and support to junior colleagues who may be caring for them.”
The new technology is also being used at NHS Fife’s safety huddles, meetings where clinical teams meet daily to review clinical and operational safety issues. In NHS Fife, live data, shown through the Patientrack system during the safety huddle meetings, ensure that every area of the hospital is aware of priority patients and that wards are properly equipped to care for them.