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Safety and time benefits of digital observation devices

Nurses at a London hospital half the time it takes to record vital observations thanks to a new digital device

Nurses at a London trust have halved the time it takes to record a patient's vital observations thanks to the introduction of a new digital device.

Funded by a £1 million grant from the Nursing Technology Fund, St George's University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has purchased 140 mobile monitoring machines that enable nurses to digitally record observations.

The Connex Vital Signs Monitor automatically interprets the data and calculates a national early warning score (NEWS) based on blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate and temperature.

The trust's head of nursing and IT clinical change Jenny Muir said that following a hugely successful pilot, which found the device saved nursing time, the monitor will soon be introduced across the trust.

Speaking at the UK e-Health Week conference, being held at London's Olympia this week, Ms Muir said: ‘We worked out that a nurse usually takes seven minutes to take a patient’s observations, but with this machine it now takes 3.5 minutes, which includes calculating the NEWS.

‘Each nurse scans their badge and the patient’s wristband into the machine for identification purposes so there is no room for error. The information is then clearly displayed on a monitor so it is easily read and interpreted. In the past we have had problems with people not knowing how to calculate the NEWS and also difficulty reading other people's handwriting, so all that has been eliminated.

‘Anything that can save time for a nurse is beneficial and when this is calculated for all patients and nurses, it will eventually add up to an enormous amount of time saved and an increased level of safety,' Ms Muir added.

The Nursing Technology Fund was launched by the prime minister in October 2012 to support nurses, midwives and health visitors to make better use of digital technology in all care settings, and deliver safer, more effective and efficient care.

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