News

COVID-19: reliance on early warning scores may have caused delays in care

A lack of specialist staff led to an over-reliance on the NEWS2 score, report says
NEWS 2 score

A lack of specialist staff led to an over-reliance on the NEWS2 score, report says

Using the National Early Warning Score (NEWS) 2 in isolation could have led to delays in adults with COVID-19 being referred to intensive care units (ICU), a new report says .

NEWS was developed by the Royal College of Physicians to improve the identification of acutely ill patients.

NEWS2 scores were being used in isolation

Referrals were made to the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) stating that some NHS trusts were using NEWS2 scores when a patient was admitted with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.

HSIB, which conducts independent investigations of patient safety concerns

A lack of specialist staff led to an over-reliance on the NEWS2 score, report says


Picture: iStock

Using the National Early Warning Score (NEWS) 2 in isolation could have led to delays in adults with COVID-19 being referred to intensive care units (ICU), a new report says.

NEWS was developed by the Royal College of Physicians to improve the identification of acutely ill patients.

NEWS2 scores were being used in isolation

Referrals were made to the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) stating that some NHS trusts were using NEWS2 scores when a patient was admitted with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.

HSIB, which conducts independent investigations of patient safety concerns in NHS-funded care across England, found that the NEWS2 system was not being used in conjunction with other indicators of deterioration and therefore delayed the transfer to ICU for some COVID-19 patients.


Nicki Credland: ‘NEWS score can't
be used in isolation’

The report found that staff reliance on the NEWS2 score was due to general wards often not being staffed by respiratory specialists who use the NEWS2 score alongside their clinical judgement.

Early warning score ‘gave false reassurance’ to non-specialist staff

Staff without this specialist clinical knowledge were being falsely reassured by the NEWS2 scores, the authors found.

British Association of Critical Care Nurses chair Nicki Credland agreed with the report’s findings, saying the score needs to be used along with clinical assessments and clinical judgement.

‘The NEWS score is really effective, but it’s got to be used as part of a trilogy, it can’t be used in isolation,’ she said.

‘If a patient looks sick but you have a normal early warning score, the chances are your patient is sick.’


Related material

Early Warning Scores to Detect Deterioration in Covid-19 Inpatients (HSIB)


In other news

Sign up to continue reading for FREE

OR

Subscribe for unlimited access

Enjoy 1 month's access for £1 and get:

  • Full access to nursing standard.com and the Nursing Standard app
  • Monthly digital edition
  • RCNi Portfolio and interactive CPD quizzes
  • RCNi Learning with 200+ evidence-based modules
  • 10 articles a month from any other RCNi journal

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this?

Jobs