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NPSA says all nurses should be using early warning score systems

All acute nurses should be using early warning score systems to identify patients at risk of deterioration, according to the National Patient Safety Agency.

Nursing Times survey found that one in five respondents “rarely” or “never” use these systems.

According to an analysis of 576 deaths reported to the NPSA’s national reporting and learning system, published in 2007, 11 per cent were as a result of deterioration not recognised or acted upon.

In collaboration with NHS North West and NHS South Central and the Patient Safety First campaign, the NPSA has set up the ‘back to basics’ campaign to change practice and behaviour around identifying deteriorating patients.

A set of nursing metrics will concentrate on patient observations, including assessing patients against an early warning score system.

Kate Beaumont, who is leading the NPSA observations project, told Nursing Times: “Early warning score systems were set up to monitor acute patients and it is recommended that they be used for all patients in acute ward settings.”

They are still in the process of being developed for use in other settings, such as mental health and primary care.

“We know there are issues around patient observations, and we need to address these problems. It is vital that we encourage nurses and engage them in patient safety if we are to improve the situation,” Ms Beaumont added.

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