Senior nurses are calling for hospitals to record additional care quality information when patients are admitted in order to flag potential problems in other parts of the care system.
A group of 22 health leaders, including two nursing directors, has written to health secretary Andrew Lansley calling for a section for “present on admission” information to be added to routine NHS hospital data collection.
This would require hospitals to record whether each of its inpatient had any of a series of conditions when they were admitted. This would include pressure ulcers, infections, injuries resulting from falls, deep vein thromobosis and acute renal failure.
When processed the data could be used to give a better picture of the quality of hospital care, and also of the community and social care the patient had previously received.
For example, the letter to Mr Lansley said the data would “provide an early warning system in adult social care by identifying from where patients are being admitted, how often and if their condition is an indicator of poor quality of care such as a pressure ulcer”.
It calls on Mr Lansley to ask the NHS Information Centre to implement the change quickly.
The letter is also signed by the Royal College of Nursing, the Care Quality Commission, data analysis firm Dr Foster Intelligence, and MP Margaret Hodge, chair of the House of Commons’ public accounts committee.
East Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trust chief nurse and director of quality and operations Julie Pearce was one of two nursing directors who signed the letter. The other was Jacqueline McKenna, director of nursing at Medway NHS Foundation Trust.
Ms Pearce said: “The campaign is a way of looking at how we ensure all organisations providing care are able to measure and improve patient safety. It’s an opportunity to see how providers can support each other particularly for patients with complex needs.”
RCN assistant head of nursing Tim Curry told Nursing Times the change would improve care for individual patients, as well as providing useful information for analysis.
He said the increased knowledge provided about a patient’s full condition, rather than only particular problems, would help improve coordination of their care and potentially avoid serious safety incidents.
Mr Curry said: “It could act as a good reminder to everyone [providing the care] of what is going on overall with the patient.”