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Case study: National Early Warning Scores a success

The healthcare challenge

Being aware of those patients who are deteriorating fast is a significant challenge particularly when they are being transferred across acute and community settings, for example from GP or ambulance to a hospital emergency department.

The solution & outcomes to date

The early warning score is a guide used by medical services to calculate quickly the seriousness of a deteriorating patient’s illness. It is based on four physiological factors: blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, and body temperature; along with one observation – level of consciousness.

The issue was a lack of standardisation – early warning scores are commonly used, but at various times, in varying locations, with differing emphases given to different factors as being of more importance.

In March 2015, the “Safer Care through Early Warning Scores” programme was launched to achieve a single Early Warning Score right across the West of England, It was agreed to adopt the National Early Warning Score (Royal College of Physicians) thus helping to quickly and consistently determine the degree of a patient’s illness, wherever treatment takes place in the West of England.

This in turn will help healthcare professionals to prioritise the care for those who are most sick by using the same scoring system enabling timely transfer of important patient data from primary and community care to acute care.

Support from the West of England AHSN

We brought together health commissioners, providers and patient groups to create a complete picture of existing systems. Workshops were held to explore issues, possible quick wins and how to measure success.



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