News and Notices

Replacing paper a plus for patient safety

The days of paper charts are numbered, with the introduction of the Patientrack e-observation system to Wairau Hospital’s Inpatient ward this week.

E-observation is the use of a computer (typically an iPad) to record patient vital signs and other clinical data at the bedside. Lisa Livingstone, clinical lead for e-observations, says the gradual introduction of e-observation – starting with the Wairau ward and expanding to other wards in 2019 – is pivotal to patient safety and patient experience.

“E-observation is not simply replacing paper charts for electronic ones, although that in itself is a big leap forward. The proven benefits are really exciting – such as the automatic calculation of early warning scores (EWS) and improved escalation of EWS,” Lisa says.

Other benefits are:

  •  improved nursing admission assessment completion rates
  •  improved consistency and continuity of patient observations
  •  integrated patient data and better visibility of the data to the staff involved in a patient’s care
  •  increased efficiency; some information is pre-populated and nurses will spend less time on paper documentation
  •  patients can be screened for risk and scheduled for care according to need

Patientrack been used extensively throughout the UK and in New Zealand is in use at Canterbury, West Coast,  Waitamata  and Counties Manukau DHBs.

Lisa says that DHBs who have been using e-observations for some time can associate the technology with reductions in infection, patient deterioration, avoidable ICU admission and other adverse events.

“This is game-changing work and we have started off very well at Wairau thanks to our staff who committed to the training, and the expertise of our ICT team.

“All the nurses have had their training, and there’s been good engagement from medical staff also. The system itself is looking good with positive feedback from staff, which means we are using the system for six types of patient assessment as planned and can trial other assessments soon.”

The six assessments are:

  1. national early warning score chart
  2. neurological observations
  3. bowel chart
  4. fluid balance chart
  5. peripheral intravenous cannula assessment
  6. weight assessment