NHS Fife deploys electronic track and trigger system to cut heart attacks

NHS Fife has reported a steep fall in medical incidents after implementing a full-scale electronic track and trigger system at the Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy.

The number of cardiac arrests in the hospital has dropped by two-thirds by using the Patientrack system only after six months of using the technology. It provides real-time data to clinicians on the sickest patients in individual wards. It has allowed a rapid improvement in the way staff monitor vital signs and respond to deteriorating patients.

The technology works by ensuring that crucial observations are not missed. It then 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.

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.

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Dr Rob Cargill, associate medical director of 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.”

Implementation of the system was led by Dr Gavin Simpson, consultant of critical care and anaesthetics at NHS Fife. He said it had helped in introducing “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.”

Colin Marrs

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