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Emergency departments urged to use checklist to help ensure safe winter care

Nurses in emergency departments in England are being encouraged to use a new checklist to ensure patients receive safe care quickly over the busy winter period.

Nurses in emergency departments across England are being encouraged to use a new checklist to ensure patients receive safe care quickly over the busy winter period.

check
Picture: John Houlihan

The checklist  was first developed at University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust (UHB) and is now being rolled for wider use by NHS Improvement.

The checklist is to be used by all nurses on shift to ensure observations, tests and treatments are carried out in a timely manner.

Overview

It covers areas such as infection control screening, pain scores, vital signs and informing next of kin.

It also has space for notes on safeguarding, such as cause for concern about a child, mental health referrals and domestic or sexual violence.

Nurses leading the shift can use the checklist to give an overview of patients in the department at any one time – helping to identify those whose condition may deteriorate.

The idea is to ensure all staff, including those new to the department, can quickly provide the right care.

Improvements

Since implementing the checklist in 2014, the trust has found:

  • A 5% increase in the number of CT scans performed within an hour of a patient's arrival.
  • A 25% mean increase in hourly observations and early warning score calculations recorded.
  • Reduction in patients’ overall length of stay.
  • No clinical incidents relating to failure of staff to recognise a deteriorating patient or delays in delivery of care.
  • Staff feel more supported and able to cope.

NHS Improvement associate nurse director Mark Radford said this winter ‘could be very busy across the healthcare system’ and such schemes would help ensure good care.

Seven trusts in south west England have already adopted the scheme, but NHS Improvement is asking all trusts to take up the checklist or a similar method this winter.


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