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NHS IT needs to get better

18th October 2011

A report has said that more efficient use of hospital information technology could save the lives of 16,000 patients a year.

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University Hospitals Birmingham has suggested that the system it has deployed could be of use to the team looking into high death rates at Stafford Hospital between 2005-2008.

The trust stated that it had seen a 17% drop in deaths of emergency patients over the course of a year, which would be equal to 16,000 patients across the UK.

Better use of IT included computer reminders which alerted staff about times to give patients medication.

The trust used IT surveillance on its wards alongside staff accountability for mistakes. The report showed that using IT helped to identify errors, with a focus on forgotten medication.

Research has suggested that hospital staff may forget or miss out one in every five doses of medication. 

The number of mistakes with missed medication has been cut by half at the trust and senior staff are able to use the system to spot problems in care.

Dr Dave Rosser, the trust's medical director, said nurses today have received training and have worked in situations where "it has become over the decades culturally acceptable for drugs not to be given to patients, and what we've been trying to do here is turn round that culture and say every single dose is important".

Helen Gyves, the matron in the critical care unit at the Birmingham trust's Queen Elizabeth hospital, said: "All of the ITU nurses work in a hi-tech environment so they are used to the impact of IT. So if you asked us why we hadn't done something or if you can give us evidence to prove that by challenging us things will improve for the patient, then we wouldn't mind." 

 

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