The Best Use of IM&T to Promote Patient Safety category of last year’s BT e-Health Insider Awards was won by NHS National Services Scotland for the Emergency Care Summary. The runners up in the category, which was sponsored by NHS Connecting for Health, were VitalPAC at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust for a project to reduce medication errors.

VitalPAC: University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust

The VitalPAC project has introduced an electronic form of the traditional paper observation chart – but one that alerts staff automatically when a patient’s condition deteriorates. The technology from TLC (The Learning Clinic) alerts staff when observations of vital signs need to be taken and can tell straight away whether patients are getting sicker. This enables critical care staff to intervene and prevent patients deteriorating to the point where they need to transfer to intensive care. The trust tested and piloted the system on one ward before implementing it into other areas in March. Initial findings show that VitalPAC is working well and making a huge difference for patients.

Using IT to reduce medication errors: Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust

Pharmacists at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust collaborated with a company in developing a closed loop system to reduce the problem of medication errors. The system comprises electronic prescribing, automated ward-based dispensing, barcode patient identification and electronic medication administration records. Results have been encouraging. Prescribing errors were identified in 3.8% of 2,450 medication orders before the new system and 2.0% of 2,353 orders afterwards. Medication administration errors occurred in 7.0% of 1,473 non-intravenous doses pre-intervention and 4.3% of 1,139 afterwards. Patient identity was not checked for 82.6% of 1,344 doses pre-intervention and 18.9% of 1,291 afterwards.