The department will use an electronic triage system, and screening for sepsis will be automated
“It will change how we practise significantly, but we are ready for the advantages that digital clinical working will bring to our processes, efficiencies and most importantly improving patient safety.” Nanette Bothma, clinical lead at Derriford for the Nervecentre ED project
Derriford Hospital, part of University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust, is to digitise its emergency department.
The hospital already uses a Nervecentre electronic patient record (EPR), but the new emergency department (ED) and patient safety modules will introduce electronic versions of nursing and medication documentation such as triage, clerking, reviews and discharge summaries. The whole clinical team will now be able to see the relevant documentation, and will no longer need to hunt for paper notes. The clinical review will be updated automatically.
On arrival at A&E, patients will be triaged by staff using an integrated electronic assessment in Nervecentre based on the Manchester Triage System clinical framework.
Paul McArdle, deputy medical director at Plymouth and senior responsible officer for the ED and patient safety modules, said of the digitisation: “It will enhance the visibility of patients, particularly for those experiencing deterioration, create escalations, and enable staff to complete their jobs supported by the digital environment.
“It is a big step forward on our digital journey and forms an important part of our first-year ambition in our recently launched five-year patient safety strategy.”
At the same time as introducing the new modules, the trust will also introduce mobile working to the A&E department. Time-critical workflows, such as sepsis screening, will be automated. The software will continually review data from multiple sources, and if it detects a patient may be at risk from sepsis it will alert the nurse in charge, to ensure timely intervention.
Nanette Bothma, clinical lead for the Nervecentre ED project, said: “Staff are looking forward to using a modern, agile, and bespoke configured digital system in their emergency department, embarking on using handheld devices, recording observations and clinical noting electronically for the very first time.
“It will change how we practise significantly, but we are ready for the advantages that digital clinical working will bring to our processes, efficiencies and most importantly improving patient safety.”
Derriford staff will be able to use phones to capture clinical notes and observations, making it easier to work on the move. It means that they will be able to create continually-updated, real-time view of the department and its patients.
A&E departments are struggling across the country: March 2022 saw 2.17 million A&E attendances, the highest since December 2019. The need to hunt around for paper notes only adds to the time pressure clinical staff are already experiencing. Digitisation will make it easier both to locate and to share patient information, and the use of automated procedures to help in time-critical workflows such as sepsis screening will do much to improve patient safety. Provided staff are offered good training and technical support, this is a change that will benefit clinicians and patients. In emergency situations, it’s absolutely critical that solutions are intuitive, so that they don’t slow down a clinician’s response.