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Nurses welcome PDAs to record vital signs

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The introduction of PDAs and hand-held devices to record patients’ vital signs is proving popular with nurses, latest research suggests.

The use of PDAs (personal digital assistants) for recording vital signs and calculating early warning sign scores in acutely ill patients are currently being trialled in 10 hospital trusts and being rolled out fully in three – Coventry and Warwickshire, Shrewsbury and Telford, and Portsmouth.

A new study, involving 26 nurses from two surgical assessment wards at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, compared personal digital assistants in a ward environment and previous research on the use of traditional pen and paper charts.

The authors said that accuracy of recording increased significantly with the PDA, as did the time taken to calculate early warning scores. But also the views of nurses using the system shifted significantly in favour of the PDA compared with traditional pen and paper during the study, which was published in the latest edition of the British Journal of Nursing.

The devices are also being trialled on two wards at King’s College Hospital, London, with plans to roll it out across the Trust if it proves successful.

Selina Trueman, head of nursing for general and emergency medicine at King’s, echoed the Telford study findings. ‘The new system is proving popular with nursing staff at King’s, and is freeing up time for nurses to concentrate more on what they come to work to do; treat patients,’ she said.

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