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Frontline clinicians in Fife have achieved a major impact on patient safety, following Scotland’s first ever go-live of a comprehensive electronic clinical observation and early warning system.

NHS Fife has become the first health board in Scotland to deploy a full scale electronic track and trigger system, after going live with Patientrack at the Victoria Hospital, Kirkcaldy. For the first time the technology has given healthcare professionals real-time visibility of the sickest patients on individual wards across the hospital, and has allowed a rapid improvement in the way staff monitor vital signs and respond to deteriorating patients.

Cardiac arrests have fallen by as much as two thirds in one of the busiest hospital areas after only six months of using the technology. Doctors expect that the technology will impact in other ways and that it offers significant potential for hospitals throughout Scotland.   

Dr Gavin Simpson, consultant critical care and anaesthetics at NHS Fife, who led the clinical deployment of Patientrack at NHS Fife, said:

“Any clinician can now instantly see the profiles of the sickest patients in the hospital. Patientrack has helped us introduce some of the biggest and most immediate changes in clinical practice I have ever seen. There are warning signs before cardiac arrests. The key is to pick them up quickly, that is what Patientrack allows. Patientrack has helped us achieve an immediate and significant reduction in cardiac arrests in one of the busiest areas of the hospital, by up to two thirds. Moving forward, Patientrack has the potential to address a range of clinical problems faced by hospitals across Scotland.”

The technology works by ensuring that crucial observations are not missed and allows nurses to capture vital signs digitally at the bedside. Patientrack then accurately calculates the patient’s early warning score and automatically calls doctors to intervene when signs of deterioration are present. The system continues to escalate calls until patients receive an appropriate response. This has already meant that nurses using the system at Victoria Hospital in Fife no longer need to manually phone for doctors to attend, and can more effectively prioritise patients on the ward.

Marie Paterson, senior charge nurse on the Cardiac Care Unit and Cardiology Ward, NHS Fife said:

“Patientrack is a really useful tool and assists us to keep patients safe. It helps the nurse in charge to see where the deteriorating patients are being nursed, which is really helpful when organising teams. It allows the nurse in charge to check that these patients are receiving the appropriate care and to give advice and support to junior colleagues who may be caring for these patients.”

The technology has also had an impact on NHS Fife’s safety huddles, where clinical teams meet daily to review clinical and operational safety issues and are made more effective by the use of Patientrack.

Dr Rob Cargill, associate medical director, NHS Fife said:

“We are the only hospital in Scotland with the ability to identify in real-time all of our sickest patients and have a meaningful clinical discussion about patient care. Our safety huddle prioritises clinical issues and allows a multi-professional team to discuss individual patients at risk and ensure there is a management plan in place. It is enormously powerful to be able to view a live summary of where the sickest patients in our hospital are so we can respond appropriately.”