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Found 435 results
  1. Content Article
    Spina bifida develops early in the embryonic stage of pregnancy but is not usually detected until the midterm (20 week) ultrasound scan.  Shine conducted a survey to assess the antenatal care experiences of parents to children with spina bifida. Volunteers were recruited via social media and 71 eligible (UK-based) responses were received, revealing numerous elements of antenatal care in need of significant improvement. Shine have published the findings and recommendations for improving antenatal diagnosis and care for spina bifida. 
  2. News Article
    Major progress made in sepsis care during the previous decade has been significantly reversed amid repeated failures in recognising and treating the condition. HSJ has identified 31 deaths in the last five years where coroners have warned of systemic problems with diagnosing and treating sepsis, including nine cases relating to children. Many of the deaths were deemed avoidable. Meanwhile, investigations suggest a majority of acute trusts are failing to record their treatment rates for sepsis, which is deemed a crucial aspect of driving improvements. Repeated shortcomings raised by coroners, including 10 separate cases in 2023, include delays or failures to administer antibiotics, not following protocols for identifying sepsis, and inaccurate, missed or skipped observations. Health ombudsman Rob Behrens, who issued a report on sepsis failures last year, said the same mistakes were “clearly being repeated time and time again”. He added: “What is chilling to me is that these [coroners’ reports] fit in almost exactly with the issues we raised in our sepsis report… and even the 2013 sepsis report issued by my predecessor, including unnecessary delays, wrong diagnosis, and failure to provide adequate plans for sepsis.” Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 27 February 2024
  3. Content Article
    This report by the Patients Association analyses the opinions and experiences of diagnostic testing services of more than 1,000 NHS patients. It highlights that patients view diagnostics as a fundamental part of the NHS—and one that should be prioritised. Most respondents (93%) want testing capacity to be invested in over the coming years so that patients can receive tests and diagnosis more quickly. Patients place such importance on diagnostics that 60% would consider paying for the tests they need if they faced a long wait on the NHS.
  4. Event
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    This webinar will explore the findings from the Patients Association's Patient Experience of Diagnostics report and consider its recommendations. The panellists are: Professor Sir Mike Richards, who was the first National Cancer Director at the Department of Health Karen Stalbow, Head of Diagnostic Policy at NHS England Dr Ashton Harper, Head of Medical Affairs at Roche Diagnostics Ltd. Patients Association Chief Executive Rachel Power will chair the session and the panel will include patients. The webinar will be held on Zoom and is free to attend. Book your place.
  5. Content Article
    In my 15 years focusing on developing drink thickening solutions for dysphagia patients, the intersection of dysphagia management and patient safety has become increasingly apparent. Dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing, presents not only as a significant health challenge but also as a critical patient safety issue. The condition's underdiagnosis, particularly in vulnerable populations, heightens the risk of severe complications, including choking, aspiration pneumonia, dehydration and the profound fear of choking that can lead to malnutrition.
  6. News Article
    A test that can detect oesophageal cancer at an earlier stage than current methods should be made more widely available to prevent deaths, charities have said. The capsule sponge test, previously known as Cytosponge, involves a patient swallowing a dissolvable pill on a string. The pill then releases a sponge which collects cells from the oesophagus as it is retrieved. The test can detect abnormalities that form as part of a condition known as Barrett’s oesophagus, which makes a person more likely to develop oesophageal cancer. In the UK 9,300 people are diagnosed with oesophageal cancer a year, according to Cancer Research. The disease is difficult to detect because the symptoms for the cancer are not easily recognisable – and can be mistaken for indigestion – until a it is at an advanced stage. The capsule sponge test can detect the cancer at an earlier stage than the current methods, such as an endoscopy, used to diagnose oesophageal cancer. However, it is only currently available to higher-risk patients as an alternative to endoscopy as part of NHS pilot schemes. Cancer Research UK is working with the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) on a trial that will recruit 120,000 people to see if the capsule sponge test can reduce deaths from oesophageal cancer. If successful, the test could be rolled out more widely. Mimi McCord, the founder of Heartburn Cancer UK, who lost her husband, Mike, to oesophageal cancer in 2002, said: “Cancer of the oesophagus is a killer that can hide in plain sight. People don’t always realise it, but not all heartburn is harmless. While they keep on treating the symptoms, the underlying cause might be killing them.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 5 February 2024
  7. Content Article
    This is part of our series of Patient Safety Spotlight interviews, where we talk to people working for patient safety about their role and what motivates them. Chidiebere is passionate about increasing representation of Black people in all forms of medical literature. In this interview, he explains how lack of representation at all levels of the healthcare system leads to disparities in healthcare experiences and outcomes. He outlines the importance of speaking openly about how racial bias affects patient safety, and argues that dispelling damaging myths about particular patient groups starts with equipping people with accurate health knowledge from a young age.
  8. Content Article
    This NICE guideline covers the recognition, diagnosis and early management of suspected sepsis. It includes recommendations on recognition and early assessment, initial treatment, escalating care, finding the source of infection, early monitoring, information and support, and training and education.   In January 2024,, the evidence was reviewed and NICE has made new recommendations on risk evaluation and management of suspected sepsis for people aged 16 or over who are not and have not recently been pregnant, in mental health, ambulance and acute hospital settings. This covers the population and settings in which the national early warning score (NEWS2) applies.
  9. News Article
    People who are severely ill with suspected sepsis should promptly be given life-saving access to antibiotics to prevent unnecessary deaths, according to updated guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE.) The guidelines state that the national early warning score should be used to assess people with suspected sepsis aged 16 and over, who are not and have not recently been pregnant, and are in an acute hospital setting or ambulance. The updated guidance also recommends that doctors are more considerate as to who is given antibiotics, in order to reduce the risk of antibiotic resistance in people being prescribed them for less severe cases of sepsis. With the update, NICE says that more people will be categorised at a lower risk level where a sepsis diagnosis should be confirmed before being given antibiotics. Prof Jonathan Benger, Nice’s chief medical officer, said: “This useful and usable guidance will help ensure antibiotics are targeted to those at the greatest risk of severe sepsis, so they get rapid and effective treatment. It also supports clinicians to make informed, balanced decisions when prescribing antibiotics. “We know that sepsis can be difficult to diagnose so it is vital there is clear guidance on the updated [national early warning score] so it can be used to identify illness, ensure people receive the right treatment in the right clinical setting and save lives." Read full story Source: The Guardian, 31 January 2024
  10. News Article
    A blood test for detecting Alzheimer’s disease could be just as accurate as painful and invasive lumbar punctures and could revolutionise diagnosis of the condition, research suggests. Measuring levels of a protein called p-tau217 in the blood could be just as good as lumbar punctures at detecting the signs of Alzheimer’s, and better than a range of other tests under development, experts say. The protein is a marker for biological changes that happen in the brain with Alzheimer’s disease. Dr Richard Oakley, an associate director of research and innovation at the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “This study is a hugely welcome step in the right direction as it shows that blood tests can be just as accurate as more invasive and expensive tests at predicting if someone has features of Alzheimer’s disease in their brain. “Furthermore, it suggests results from these tests could be clear enough to not require further follow-up investigations for some people living with Alzheimer’s disease, which could speed up the diagnosis pathway significantly in future. However, we still need to see more research across different communities to understand how effective these blood tests are across everyone who lives with Alzheimer’s disease.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 23 January 2024
  11. Content Article
    Meeting cancer performance targets is a challenge for many trusts with waiting times for diagnosis and treatment growing since the pandemic. But this is a worrying time for patients as well, and they would welcome quicker turnaround of results and diagnosis. Cutting time out of this pathway would benefit everyone but are there ways to do this which do not compromise patient safety? An HSJ webinar, in association with SS&C Blue Prism, addressed this important question and tried to find ways trusts could reduce waiting times.
  12. Content Article
    Laura Cockram, Head of Policy and Campaigning at Parkinson's UK, and regular blogger for the hub, shares with us what Parkinson's UK will be doing to support World Parkinson's Day.
  13. News Article
    The mother of an 11-year-old Aberdeenshire girl with Long Covid has launched a legal action against their health board, in what lawyers claim is the first case of its kind in Scotland. Helen Goss, from Westhill, is seeking damages from NHS Grampian on behalf of her daughter, Anna Hendy. The action claims the health board is responsible for "multiple failings" in Anna's treatment and care. The claim alleges failings were avoidable, that they caused Anna "injury and damage", and led to her condition worsening. Anna became unwell after contracting Covid in 2020. The action alleges a number of failings by the health board. These include claims that requests for Anna to be referred to the specialist paediatric services of immunology and neurology were refused. It also claims no further help was offered after Anna was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and Paediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome (PANS). And it says these failings "could have been avoided had NHS Grampian followed contemporary guidance on diagnosis and treatment". Read full story Source: BBC, 19 January 2024
  14. Content Article
    This study in JAMA Psychiatry aimed to assess whether multivariate machine learning approaches can identify the neural signature of major depressive disorder in individual patients. The study was conducted as a case-control neuroimaging study that included 1801 patients with depression and healthy controls. The results showed that the best machine learning algorithm only achieved a diagnostic classification accuracy of 62% across major neuroimaging modalities. The authors concluded that although multivariate neuroimaging markers increase predictive power compared with univariate analyses, no depression biomarker could be uncovered that is able to identify individual patients.
  15. Event
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    PPPs 2024 Cancer Care programme kicks off with this report launch webinar on AI in Imaging Diagnostics. While discussions concerning artificial intelligence (AI) have come to dominate public discourse since the launch of ChatGPT last year, in healthcare, AI has been the subject of intense debate for some time. Many of the key talking points that define the debate in healthcare echo that of its wider implications, namely the unintended consequences of unleashing unregulated algorithms across the sector and the potentially profound implications AI could have upon workforces globally. However, it is perhaps in healthcare where AI stands to make its greatest and most positive impact. Healthcare is a data-rich industry, with the treatment of patients leading to the production of vast amounts of medical records, images, lab results, and numerous other data outputs. This multimodal data can be used to train a wide range of AI systems, leading to the development of new, more targeted drug treatments and diagnostic tools, more personalised care, and a more efficient healthcare system. Join an expert panel as they help to launch PPPs newest report exploring what it takes to begin implementing AI at scale in imaging diagnostics in the NHS. Register for the webinar
  16. News Article
    Portable X-ray machines "can literally be the difference between life and death", says radiographer Sam Pilkington. For most of us, if we need to be X-rayed the procedure is done in a hospital. But for acutely unwell patients, or for infection control, Ms Pilkington says that portable machines are very helpful. This is because "they remove the excess burden of transportation from the patients", says the final-year student at the University of the West of England in Bristol, who is also a member of the Institute of Physics. Instead the X-ray equipment goes to them. There are obvious advantages for remote locations, including battlefields, roadsides and disaster zones. Read full story Source: BBC News, 8 January 2024
  17. Content Article
    In this article for the Journal of Eating Disorders, Alykhan Asaria considers the criteria used in a paper by Guadiani et al. (J Eat Disord 10:23, 2022) to define ‘terminal anorexia nervosa’ and outlines concerns about this new term from a lived experience perspective. The author highlights issues about the ambiguities around how the criteria can be applied safely and the impact of labelling anorexia nervosa sufferers with terms. Further articles on the hub from Alykhan Asaria: ‘Terminal anorexia’: a lived experience perspective
  18. Content Article
    Rob Behrens reflects on the work the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) has done over the last year to drive improvements in patient safety.
  19. Content Article
    Elective recovery plans in part rely on the strengths of Surgical Hubs (SH) and Community Diagnostic Centres (CDC) to provide additional support. This report by the Medical Technology Group (MTG) considers how well these new tools are working for the NHS. It raises questions about how SHs and CDCs have been established and the decision making processes within these services.
  20. Content Article
    In a study published in Rheumatology, researchers used the example of neuropsychiatric lupus, an incurable autoimmune disease that is particularly challenging to diagnose, to examine the different value given by clinicians to 13 different types of evidence used in diagnoses. This included evidence such as brain scans, patient views, and the observations of family and friends.
  21. News Article
    The average wait for an autism diagnosis in England has hit 300 days, according to new NHS data. That is up 53% from 12 months prior and exceeds the NICE target of 91 days. The National Autistic Society described such wait times as appalling, warning "autistic people shouldn't miss out on vital support because they haven't got a timely assessment." A government spokesperson said it had made £4.2m available this year to improve services for autistic children. Rose Matthews, 63, from County Durham, said receiving an autism diagnosis had been "lifesaving - and I don't say that flippantly". Before receiving their diagnosis at the age of 59, Rose, who uses "they" and "them" as personal pronouns, said: "My life was unravelling. "My career was unravelling." They said their GP had "deeply misguided ideas about what being autistic meant" and brushed them aside. Joey Nettleton-Burrows, policy and public affairs manager for the National Autistic Society (NAS), said: "We do see lot of misunderstanding from people, and it can include health and social care staff, but I wouldn't say it is common with GPs." Read full story Source: BBC News, 15 December 2023
  22. News Article
    One of the biggest challenges facing clinicians who treat Long Covid is a lack of consensus when it comes to recognising and diagnosing the condition. But a new study suggests testing for certain biomarkers may identify Long Covid with accuracy approaching 80%. Effective diagnostic testing would be a game-changer in the Long Covid fight, for it’s not just the fatigue, brain fog, heart palpitations, and other persistent symptoms that affect patients. Two out of three people with Long Covid also suffer mental health challenges like depression and anxiety. Some patients say their symptoms are not taken seriously by their doctors. And as many as 12% of Long Covid patients are unemployed because of the severity of their illness and their employers may be sceptical of their condition. Researchers at Cardiff University School of Medicine in Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom, tracked 166 patients, 79 of whom had been diagnosed with Long Covid and 87 who had not. All participants had recovered from a severe bout of acute Covid-19. In an analysis of the blood plasma of the study participants, researchers found elevated levels of certain components. Four proteins in particular—Ba, iC3b, C5a, and TCC—predicted the presence of Long Covid with 78.5% accuracy. "I was gobsmacked by the results. We’re seeing a massive dysregulation in those four biomarkers," says study author Wioleta Zelek, PhD, a research fellow at Cardiff University. "It’s a combination that we showed was predictive of Long Covid.." Read full story Source: Medscape, 29 November 2023
  23. News Article
    Opt-out blood tests for HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C will be rolled out to a further 46 hospitals across England, the government has announced. Health Secretary Victoria Atkins said the new £20m programme would lead to earlier diagnoses and treatment. Under the scheme, anyone having a blood test in selected hospital A&E units has also been tested for HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C, unless they opted out. The trials have been taking place for the last 18 months in 33 hospitals in London, Greater Manchester, Sussex and Blackpool, where prevalence is classed by the NHS as "very high". Figures released by the NHS earlier show those pilots have identified more than 3,500 cases of the three bloodborne infections since April 2022, including more than 580 HIV cases. Ms Atkins said: "The more people we can diagnose, the more chance we have of ending new transmissions of the virus and the stigma wrongly attached to it." She added that rolling out the tests to more hospitals would help ensure early diagnoses so people "can be given the support and the medical treatment they need to live not just longer lives but also higher quality lives". Read full story Source: BBC News, 29 November 2023
  24. News Article
    Patients are at risk of having serious health conditions missed because of the lack of continuity of care provided by GPs, the NHS safety watchdog says. Investigators highlighted the case of Brian who was seen by eight different GPs before his cancer was spotted as an example of what can go wrong. Brian had a history of breast cancer and had been discharged from the breast cancer service. Two years later he began to have back pain. Over the following eight months, he saw two out-of-hours GPs and six GPs based at his local practices as well as a physio and GP nurse, before he was sent for a hospital check-up in late 2020. A secondary cancer had developed on Brian's spine, but it was too late to offer him curative treatment and he was given end-of-life care. He has since died. The watchdog said the lack of continuity of care resulted in the diagnosis of Brian's cancer being missed. One of the key problems was that the different GPs he saw missed the fact he was attending repeatedly for the same issue. Senior investigator Neil Alexander said Brian's case was a "stark example" of what can happen when there is a breakdown in continuity of care. "He told our team 'when I am gone, no-one else should have to go through what I did'." Read full story Source: BBC News, 30 November 2023
  25. Content Article
    Patients who visit their GP practice with an ongoing health problem may see several different GPs about the same symptoms. To make sure they receive safe and efficient care, there needs to be a system in place to ensure continuity of care. In the context of this report, continuity of care is where a patient has an ongoing relationship with a specific doctor, or when information is managed in a way that allows any doctor to care for a patient. While some GP practices in England operate a formalised system of continuity of care, many do not. This investigation explored the safety risk associated with the lack of a system of continuity of care within GP practices. The investigation focused on: How GP practices manage continuity of care. This includes how electronic record systems alert GPs to repeat attendances for symptoms that are not resolving and how information is shared across the healthcare system. Workload pressures that affect the ability of GP practices to deliver continuity of care. This investigation’s findings, safety recommendations and safety observations aim to prevent the delayed diagnosis of serious health conditions caused by a lack of continuity of care and to improve care for patients across the NHS.
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