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Found 19 results
  1. News Article
    An NHS hospital which has faced repeated criticism by regulators for poor standards of care has been fined £4,000 for failing to assess A&E patients quickly enough. The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals Trust has been fined by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) after patients were not triaged within 15 mimutes of arrival in A&E – in breach of conditions set by the regulator last year and a national target. The care of emergency patients at the hospital trust, which is also facing an inquiry into poor maternity care, has been a long running concern for the watchdog which has rated the trust inadequate and put it in special measures in 2018. Earlier this year the CQC’s chief inspector of hospitals, Professor Ted Baker, wrote to NHS England warning of a “worsening picture" at the Midlands hospital and demanding action be taken. The CQC said it had issued the fixed penalty notice to the trust because it failed to comply with national clinical guidance that all children and adults must be assessed within 15 minutes of arrival. It also failed to implement a system that ensured all children who left the emergency department without being seen were followed up. After inspections in April 2019 and November 29 the CQC imposed seven conditions on the hospital over emergency care. The regulator said it was now clear the trust had not stuck to the conditions and had breached them both at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and Princess Royal Hospital. Professor Baker said: "The trust has not responded satisfactorily to previous enforcement action regarding how quickly patients are assessed upon entering the urgent and emergency department." “We have issued a penalty notice due to the severity of the situation and to ensure the necessary, urgent improvements are made. It is essential that patients are seen in a timely way when they arrive at an emergency department; failure to do so could result in deteriorating health, harm, or even death, which is why national guidelines exist and must be followed." Read full story Source: The Independent, 12 October 2020
  2. News Article
    Nurses and non-medical staff have been stopped from taking patient calls to the NHS coronavirus helpline amid concerns over the safety of their advice. An audit of calls to the telephone assessment service found more than half were potentially unsafe for patients, according to a leaked email shared with The Independent. At least one patient may have come to harm as a result of the way their assessment was handled. The COVID-19 Clinical Assessment Service (CCAS) is a branch of the NHS 111 phone line and is designed to assess patients showing signs of coronavirus to determine whether they need to be taken to hospital or seen by a GP. The helpline was set up at the start of the pandemic to divert patients with symptoms to a phone-based triage to relieve pressure on GPs and prevent them from turning up at surgeries and spreading the virus. GPs, nurses and allied health professionals (AHPs) such as paramedics and physiotherapists were recruited to speak to patients after they were flagged by NHS 111 call handlers. The use of non-medical staff was first paused in July amid concerns about the quality of call handling. Now it has emerged much wider safety issues have surfaced. Read full story Source: The Independent, 18 August 2020
  3. News Article
    Early warning scores are used in the NHS to identify patients in acute care whose health is deteriorating, but medics say it could actually be putting people in danger. The rollout of an early warning system used in hospitals to identify patients at the greatest risk of dying is based on flawed evidence, according to a study published in the BMJ which suggests that much of the research supporting the rollout of NEWS was biased and overly reliant on scores that could put patients at greater risk.. Medical researchers said problems with NHS England's National Early Warning Scores (NEWS) system had emerged "frequently" in reports on avoidable deaths. The system sees each patient given an overall score based on a number of vital signs such as heart rate, oxygen levels, blood pressure and level of consciousness. Doctors and nurses can then prioritise patients with the most urgent NEWS scores. But some professionals have argued that the system has reduced nursing duties to a checklist of tasks rather than a process of providing overall clinical assessment. Professor Alison Leary, a fellow of the Royal College of Nursing and chair of healthcare and workforce modelling at London South Bank University, told The Independent: “In our analysis of prevention of future death reports from coroners, early warning scores and misunderstanding around their use feature frequently". “It's clear that some organisations use scoring systems and a more tick box approach to care as they lack the right amount of appropriately skilled staff, mostly registered nurses.” “Early warning scores might not perform as well as expected and therefore they could have a detrimental effect on patient care,” the authors of the research conclude. “Future work should focus on following recommended approaches for developing and evaluating early warning scores, and investigating the impact and safety of using these scores in clinical practice.” Read full story Source: The Independent, 21 May 2020
  4. News Article
    Doctors who look after patients in a vegetative or minimally conscious state must ensure they initiate regular conversations with relatives about what is in the best interests of the person so that they do not get “lost in the system,” says new guidance. The Royal College of Physicians has published new and revised guidelines on prolonged disorders of consciousness (PDOC) to take into account changes in the law and developments in assessment and management. Read full story (paywalled) Source: BMJ, 6 March 2020
  5. Content Article
    The guidelines offer updated guidance on the diagnosis, assessment, care and management of patients with PDOC. They support doctors, families and health service commissioners to ensure that everyone is aware of their legal and ethical responsibilities. The guidelines cover: Definitions and terminology of PDOC. Techniques for assessment, diagnosis and review. Care pathways from acute to long-term management. The ethical and medico-legal framework for decision-making. Practical decision-making regarding starting or continuing life-sustaining treatments, including CANH, and management of end-of-life care for PDOC patients. Service organisation and commissioning.
  6. Content Article
    Following a review of the events that led up to Amy’s death Great Ormond Street Hospital have already made changes to practice: They have improved the way clinical information is shared between different specialist teams, to make sure staff have as comprehensive a picture as possible when making complex decisions about a patient’s treatment. They now use a single log-in electronic patient record system which means staff can quickly access clinical information about a patient and have the right information at the right time, rather than routinely having to use multiple systems. They have improved consultant availability. This means there is more consultant time for each patient being looked after in our paediatric intensive care unit. They have introduced a new process to make sure the care of patients, like Amy, who have both complex spinal and heart conditions is routinely considered by the hospital’s specialist joint cardiology committee.
  7. News Article
    Mother Natalie Deviren was concerned when her two-year-old daughter Myla awoke in the night crying with a restlessness and sickness familiar to all parents. Natalie was slightly alarmed, however, because at times her child seemed breathless. She consulted an online NHS symptom checker. Myla had been vomiting. Her lips were not their normal colour. And her breathing was rapid. The symptom checker recommended a hospital visit, but suggested she check first with NHS 111, the helpline for urgent medical help. To her bitter regret, Natalie followed the advice. She spoke for 40 minutes to two advisers, but they and their software failed to recognise a life-threatening situation with “red flag” symptoms, including rapid breathing and possible bile in the vomit. Myla died from an intestinal blockage the next day and could have survived with treatment. The two calls to NHS 111 before the referral to the out-of-hours service were audited. Both failed the required standards, but Natalie was told that the first adviser and the out-of-hours nurse had since been promoted. She discovered at Myla’s inquest that “action plans” to prevent future deaths had not been fully implemented. The coroner recommended that NHS 111 have a paediatric clinician available at all times. In her witness statement at her daughter’s inquest in July, Natalie said: “You’re just left with soul-destroying sadness. It is existing with a never-ending ache in your heart. The pure joy she brought to our family is indescribable.” Read full story Source: The Times, 5 January 2020
  8. Content Article
    Key outcomes UTI hospital admissions reduced by 36% in the four pilot care homes (150 residents). UTIs requiring antibiotics reduced by 58%. The gap between UTIs increased from an average of nine days in the baseline period to 80 days in the implementation and sustainability phase. One residential home was UTI-free for 243 consecutive days. Similar outcomes noted in pilot 2 care homes (215 residents).
  9. Content Article
    My much loved daughter-in-law, Mariana Pinto, died on 16 October 2016. She was 32. Her tragic and unexpected death raised many questions for us about standard practice by psychiatric services and about patient safety. The evening before she died, Mariana was taken by ambulance to her local A&E department, escorted by four police officers, and handcuffed for her own safety. She was psychotic – delusional, paranoid, violent and very distressed. She had attacked her husband (my son) who had visible bite marks, scratches and bruises. It was a first episode and totally out of character. She had not eaten or slept for several days. In A&E she was brought food and drink but spat it out, believing it to be poisoned. She kept trying to escape from the cubicle. The police stayed, stating that she was extremely vulnerable. Eventually she agreed to take a sedative – but not before she had held it under her tongue for some time, and only after we, her family, were able to persuade her that she should take it. Once she was finally sedated, she was given various tests to rule out any physical cause, and a mental health act assessment. This was done with her and her husband together. There was no attempt to see him separately. She was deemed competent to make decisions about her care, and as she wanted to go home, was discharged, with a referral to the local Crisis Team, who we were told would receive the referral at 8 am the following morning and would arrange to visit. The psychiatric team operate within A&E but for a separate mental health trust. This same trust runs the Crisis Team. It is deemed outstanding by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). The following morning, there was no contact from the Crisis Team. My son rang them at midday to ask when they would visit. They said normally between 5 and 7 pm on Sundays and to ring back if he needed to. He rang back at 3.30 pm stating that she had deteriorated rapidly and asking for the visit to be brought forward. He was told that it could not be. At 4.00 pm Mari ran out of the open door to the roof terrace and jumped off it. She did not survive her injuries. The Coroner gave a narrative verdict, making it clear that Mariana did not know what she was doing, though her actions were deliberate. She also gave a Prevention of Future Deaths Report. Whilst the trust is obliged to reply, there is no statutory obligation to demonstrate that the actions they have promised have actually been taken. There was no attempt at any risk assessment. There was no attempt to check that my son could speak freely (he could not – it was a studio apartment). There was no attempt to call the emergency services on his behalf, and no attempt to check he had been able to do so. None of this is regarded as negligent or especially problematic. Since her death the Crisis Team do visit on Sunday mornings. We also found out that the number we were given to call was for service users already allocated a key worker, rather than a more general number – but as my son spoke to senior staff on each call, this should not have made a difference. After her death we raised the following questions: Surely given the bite marks and bruising, her husband should have been allowed to give his information to the psychiatric team separately? No, it turns out that while this would have been good practice, it was not negligent. Surely, given that her family knew and loved her, we should have been asked post sedation if she seemed like herself (she did not). No, it turns out that this is not seen as necessary. It’s not even regarded as good practice. Surely, given that she was paranoid and had told the police that she did not trust her husband, her husband should have been given private space to discuss the discharge and rehearse what to do if things went wrong once the sedative wore off? And surely we should have been told that the Crisis Team is not instead of calling 999 in an emergency. And efforts made to help us to decide if the situation was an emergency. No, it turns out that while this would have been good practice, it was not negligent. The mental health trust has now introduced a written discharge template for care and contingency planning. We have been told that the circumstances of Mariana’s death were unusual and could not have been foretold. That may be. But there are still lessons to be learnt. To improve patient safety in mental health crisis and to learn from deaths, we need to change standard practice. It should become standard to: See family and friends separately if someone is paranoid, to understand the family’s concerns, learn more about the patient and work together to consider how best the patient can be kept safe and helped. Provide written care and contingency plans to patients and their family Use one number for a Crisis Team helpline, with clear policies to offer help and support to service users and to their carers, and proper protocols in place to assess risk and intervene if someone is at immediate risk of harm. Make it very clear to patients that a referral to a Crisis Team is not a substitute for calling 999 in an emergency (where there is an immediate risk of harm to the patient or others) and to distinguish between a crisis and an emergency. Other professionals have a role in this too: On discharge, the A&E staff (who were very kind and very concerned) could invite the family to come back if the situation deteriorates, making it clear that it was an emergency, was a legitimate use of 999 and of A&E, and that the Crisis Teams are not for emergencies. The police could do the same, if they are trusted by the family (in many cases they are not).
  10. News Article
    Up to half of all patients who suffer an acute aortic dissection may die before reaching crucial specialist care, according to a new Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) report. The report highlights the difficulty which can face hospital staff in recognising acute aortic dissection. The investigation was triggered by the case of Richard, a fit and healthy 54-year old man, who arrived at his local emergency department by ambulance after experiencing chest pain and nausea during exercise. It took four hours before the diagnosis of an acute aortic dissection was made, and he spent a further hour waiting for the results of a CT scan. Although Richard was then transferred urgently by ambulance to the nearest specialist care centre, he sadly died during the journey. The report has identified a number of risks in the diagnostic process which might result in the condition being missed. These include aortic dissection not being suspected because patients can initially appear quite well or because symptoms might be attributed to a heart or lung condition. It also highlighted that, once the diagnosis is suspected, an urgent CT scan is required to confirm that an acute aortic dissection is present. Gareth Owens, Chair of the national patient association Aortic Dissection Awareness UK & Ireland, welcomed the publication of HSIB’s report, saying: “HSIB’s investigation and report have highlighted that timely, accurate recognition of acute Aortic Dissection is a national patient safety issue. This is exactly what patients and bereaved relatives having been telling the NHS, Government and the Royal College of Emergency Medicine for several years." Read full story Source: HSIB, 23 January 2020
  11. Content Article
    So, what does it feel like working in chronically depleted staffing levels? "We are down three nurses today" – this is what I usually hear when I turn up for a shift. It has become the norm. We work below our template, usually daily, so much so that when we are fully staffed, we are expected to work on other wards that are ‘three nurses down’. Not an uncommon occurrence to hear at handover on a busy 50-bedded medical ward. No one seems to bat an eyelid; you may see people sink into their seat, roll their eyes or sigh, but this is work as usual. ‘Three nurses down’ has been the norm for months here, staff here have adapted to taking up the slack. Instead of taking a bay of six patients, the side rooms are added on making the ratio 1:9 or sometimes 1:10, especially at night. This splitting up the workload has become common practice on many wards. "That was a good shift" – no one died when they were not supposed to, I gave the medications, I documented care that we gave, I filled out all the paperwork that I am supposed to, I completed the safety checklists. Sounds a good shift? Thinking of Erik Hollnagel’s ‘work as done, work as imagined’ (Wears, Hollnagel & Braithwaite, 2015) – this shift on paper looks as if it was a ‘good shift’ but in fact: Medications were given late; some were not given at all as the pharmacy order went out late because we had a patient that fell. Care that was given was documented – most of the personal care is undertaken by the healthcare assistants (HCA) now and verbally handed over during the day – bowel movements, mobility, hygiene, mouth care, nutrition and hydration. As a nurse, I should be involved in these important aspects of my patients’ care, but I am on the phone sorting out Bed 3’s discharge home, calling the bank office to cover sickness, attending to a complaint by a relative. It’s being attended to by the HCA – so it's sorted? I have documented, probably over documented which has made me late home. I’m fearful of being reprimanded for the fall my patient had earlier on. This will be investigated and they will find out using my documentation what happened. The safety checklists have been completed for all my patients; comfort rounds, mouth care, falls proforma, bed rails assessment, nutritional score, cannular care plan, catheter care plan, delirium score, swallow test, capacity test, pre op assessments, pre op checklists, safe ward round checklist, NEWS charting, fluid balance charting and stool charting… the list is endless. Management have made things easier with the checklist ‘if it’s not written down it didn’t happen’ so now we can ‘tick’ against the check list rather than writing copious notes. However, I cut corners to enable me to complete all my tasks, some ticks are just ‘ticks’ when no work has been completed. No one would know this shift would they? What looks as if it has been a ‘good shift’ for the nurse, has often been the opposite for the patients and their family. There is a large body of research showing that low nurse staffing levels are associated with a range of adverse outcomes, notably mortality (Griffiths et al, 2018; Recio-Saucedo et al, 2018). What is the safest level of staff to care for patients? Safe staffing levels have been a long-standing mission of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)/Royal College of Nursing (RCN) in recent years. In the UK at present, nurse staffing levels are set locally by individual health providers. The Department of Health and professional organisations such as the RCN have recommended staffing levels for some care settings but there is currently no compliance regime or compulsion for providers to follow these when planning services (Royal College of Nursing 2019). I was surprised to find that there are no current guidelines on safe staffing within our healthcare system. It left me wondering… is patient safety a priority within our healthcare system? It seems not. While the debate and fight continues for safe staffing levels, healthcare staff continue to nurse patients without knowing what is and isn’t safe. Not only are the patients at risk and the quality of care given, but the registration of that nurse is also at risk. What impact does low staffing have on patients and families? ‘What matters to them’ does not get addressed. I shall never forget the time a relative asked me to get a fresh sheet for their elderly mother as there was a small spillage of soup on it. I said yes, but soon forgot. In the throes of medication and ward rounds, being called to the phone for various reasons, answering call buzzers, writing my documentation, making sure Doris doesn't climb out of bed again, escorting patients to and from the CT scanner, transferring patients to other wards – I forgot. My elderly patients’ daughter was annoyed, I remember she kept asking and I kept saying "in a minute", this made matters worse. She got annoyed, so that I ended up avoiding her altogether. How long does it take to give her the sheet? Five minutes tops, so why not get the sheet? MY priority was the tasks for the whole ward, tasks that are measured and audited on how well the ward performs by the Trust; filling out the observations correctly, adhering to the escalation policy, completing the 20 page safety booklet, completing the admission paperwork, ensuring everyone had their medication on time, making sure no one fell – changing a sheet with a small spot of soup on it was not on my priority list. It was a priority for my patients’ family. My patient was elderly, frail and probably wouldn’t get out of hospital alive this time. Her daughter was the only family she had left. It’s no wonder families feel that they are not listened to, are invisible, are getting in the way and not valued. These feelings do not encourage a healthy relationship between patients/families and healthcare workers. Studies have shown that involving patients and families in care is vital to ensure patient safety. Patients and their relatives have the greatest knowledge of patients and can often pick up subtle signs physiological deterioration before this is identified by staff or monitoring systems (O’dell et al, 2011). If our relationship is strained, how can we, as nurses, advocate for the safety of our patients? So, what impact does low staffing have on the staff member? "Fully staffed today!" The mood lifts at handover. People are sat up, smiling, quiet excitable chatter is heard. This uplifting sentence is quickly followed by either: "Let’s keep this quiet" or "someone will be moved" or "someone will have to move to XX ward as they are down three nurses". Morale is higher when wards are fully staffed. The mood is different. There are people to help with patient care, staff can take their breaks at reasonable times, staff may be able to get home on time and there is emotional support given by staff to other staff – a camaraderie. The feeling does not last long. Another department is ‘three nurses down’. Someone must move to cover the shortfall. No one wants to go When you get moved, you often get given the ‘heavy’ or ‘confused’ patients. Not only that, you are working with a different team with different dynamics – you are an outsider. This makes speaking up difficult, asking for help difficult, everything is difficult: the ward layout, where equipment is stored, where to find documentation, drugs are laid out differently in the cupboard, the clinical room layout is not the same. The risk of you getting something wrong has increased; this is a human factors nightmare, the perfect storm. I am in fear of losing my PIN (NMC registration) at times. At some point I am going to make a mistake. I can’t do the job I have been trained to do safely. The processes that have been designed to keep me and my patients safe are not robust. If anything, it is to protect the safety and reputation of the Trust, that’s what it feels like. Being fully staffed is a rarity. Being moved to a different department happens, on some wards more than others. Staff dread coming to work for threat of being moved into a different specialty. Just because you trained to work on a respiratory, doesn’t mean you can now work on a gynae ward. We are not robots you can move from one place to another. I can see that moving staff is the best option to ensure efficiency; but at what cost? Another problem in being chronically short staffed is that it becomes the norm. We have been ‘coping’ with three nurses down for so long, that ‘management’ look at our template. Is the template correct, we could save money here? If we had written guidance on safe staffing levels, we still have the problem of recruitment and retention of staff; there are not enough of us to go around. Thoughts please... Does this resonate with you? Has anyone felt that they feel ‘unsafe’ giving care? What power do we have as a group to address this issue of safe staffing levels? References 1. Wears RL, Hollnagel E, Braithwaite J, eds. The Resilience of Everyday Clinical Work. 2015. Farnham, UK: Ashgate. 2. Griffiths P et al. The association between nurse staffing and omissions in nursing care: a systematic review. Journal of Advanced Nursing 2018: 74 (7): 1474-1487. 3. Recio-Saucedo A et al. What impact does nursing care left undone have on patient outcomes? Review of the literature. Journal of Clinical Nursing 2018; 27(11-12): 2248-2259. 4. O’dell M et al. Call 4 Concern: patient and relative activated critical care outreach. British Journal of Nursing 2001; 19 (22): 1390-1395.
  12. Content Article
    We have a new app within Homerton which is featured on the hub. The Homerton University Hospital (HUH) Action Card App is an initiative that aims to bridge the gap between information/processes with clinical members of staff without the need to log into a computer, access the intranet, and finding the long black and white document which is never ending. The Action Card App has easy to read, 1-page coloured documents relating to local and national/local incident trends and Never Events. We entered the Patient Safety Learning Awards on the back of seeing the hub and finding content on there that was incredibly useful on a day to day basis. We genuinely weren't expecting to hear anything back from the Patient Safety Learning team as we are a small trust that not a lot of people know about, and we thought the standard of patient safety initiatives would be high, with many trusts miles ahead of us. I have to say, the team at Patient Safety Learning were nothing but lovely, from the moment the conversation started about the prospect of entering the awards. They all took the time for correspondence and they treated you as a person, as oppose to an entry. When we got the information that we had won the overall prize, we were gobsmacked and elated. The app team were overjoyed with the sense that our hard work had paid off and someone had taken the time to appreciate the work we have been doing at Homerton. We were asked to prepare a presentation prior to the awards, which showcased our work and to share with the attendees of the conference. The day arrived, with so much great work, inspiring talks and a general atmosphere of wanting to do more to keep our patients safe. I would like to thank everyone who heard our presentation (some may say performance) and thank everyone in the Patient Safety Learning team for their help with this process.
  13. Content Article
    What will I learn? This guidance provides a framework to help you to make decisions with your patient about their treatment and care. By following it, it will help you make sure that you have informed consent from your patient. And that you involve families and others when it’s appropriate. It has advice on: What you should tell a patient when talking about risks. What to do if your patient doesn't want to hear information you think is relevant. When you must have written consent. What you should record. The guidance will also help you when your patient lacks capacity. It includes a helpful list of things you should consider and has advice on dealing with disagreements.
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