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Checklists cut hospital deaths

6th April 2010

A system which uses so-called care bundles has dramatically reduced hospital deaths.

nursing

The system involves checklists that detail exactly how to care for patients with common conditions covering areas such as strokes, heart failure and MRSA infections.

They were introduced at North West London Hospitals NHS Trust by its former director of nursing, Liz Robb, who went to America to learn the methods.

In a report published in the British Medical Journal, the checklists indicate a 15% fall in the number of deaths at one north London hospital.

The trust focused on some 56 conditions which accounted for about 80% of all deaths at the trust's three hospitals.

Under the system, when a patient is first diagnosed with a listed condition, a coloured checklist is placed into their medical notes and a sticker on the front tells doctors and nurses to follow it.

Recommended treatments and care are based on the best available medical evidence and even include simple elements such as hand-washing.

The London trust, which already had good death rate statistic, there were 174 fewer deaths from the 56 conditions in 2007/08 compared with the previous year.

The trust’s director of medical education Dr Clare Higgens said the system was simple for doctors and nurses to use.

In March, Professor Brian Jarman from Imperial College London called for 25 trusts to be investigated over apparently high death rates. He said the new system could be massive if adopted across the NHS, saving many thousands of lives each year.

 

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