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Coloured wristbands help people with respiratory issues in the community

Their use informs emergency staff of correct oxygen level required by each patient
Oxygen wristband

Their use informs emergency staff of correct oxygen level required by each patient

Patients at risk of respiratory failure in the community were given coloured wristbands as part of a nurse-led project to ensure they received appropriate amounts of oxygen in emergencies.

The pink or grey wristbands indicate the correct percentage level of oxygen saturation the patient should receive from emergency staff, should they become unwell.

Trial of wristbands shows potential to reduce hospital admissions

A total of 336 patients at risk of type 2 respiratory failure took part in the trial between November 2018 and November 2019 at Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust.

Although final data is yet to be released, the trust believes the use of wristbands could reduce hospital admissions and shorten the length of stay for these patients.

Previously, the trust’s patients at risk

Their use informs emergency staff of correct oxygen level required by each patient

Patients at risk of respiratory failure in the community were given coloured wristbands as part of a nurse-led project to ensure they received appropriate amounts of oxygen in emergencies.

The pink or grey wristbands indicate the correct percentage level of oxygen saturation the patient should receive from emergency staff, should they become unwell.

Trial of wristbands shows potential to reduce hospital admissions

A total of 336 patients at risk of type 2 respiratory failure took part in the trial between November 2018 and November 2019 at Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust.

Although final data is yet to be released, the trust believes the use of wristbands could reduce hospital admissions and shorten the length of stay for these patients.

Previously, the trust’s patients at risk of respiratory failure in the community were issued with an alert card that indicated they were at risk of retaining carbon dioxide, but this was often forgotten or mislaid in an emergency.

Hospital pilot inspired the use of wristbands

The trust’s professional lead Sheilagh McCrossan had seen positive data from a pilot of similar wristbands in hospitals, and decided to trial the scheme in the community.

'[Current data from the community scheme] do seem to indicate that the project has reduced admissions to hospital for type two respiratory failure, and reduced the length of stay for patients being admitted with a flare-up of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).’

The trust says it has received ‘all-round’ positive feedback from staff and patients, and the wristbands are still in use following the trial.

Patient recounts positive experience with the wristband


Robin Levett with his wife Sue 

For Robin Levett, who has COPD, the wristband proved its worth when he was admitted to hospital for a few days in autumn last year.

‘The teams saw the wristband and knew my target oxygen levels; it was really helpful because too much can be dangerous,’ he said.

‘Wherever I am, the medical people will know what oxygen to give me – I’d be unlikely to be able to tell them if I’m breathless.’


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