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Better charts, safer patients in Australian hospitals

Providing better patient outcomes in Australian hospitals by improving the management of acute patient deterioration events is the focus of a new research project at the University of Technology, Sydney.

UTS has received funding from the Australian Commission for Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC) to pilot and implement a new observation response chart (ORC) for use in clinical health care settings.

“The goal is to improve the response to clinical deterioration,” said project director Professor Doug Elliott.

“That’s absolutely what the ACSQHC’s program of research in this area wants to achieve – to get some standardisation, to get some explicit documentation that supports clinical practice and therefore achieve improved patient outcomes.”

The new ORC will provide clear and concise information about how to respond to changes in a patient’s signs and symptoms.

“Unlike current observational charts, the benefit of these new ORCs is that the clinical response recommendations are clearly displayed on the form. When a patient shows signs of clinical deterioration, the form provides a simple guide to actions that need to be taken,” Elliott said.

The pilot program will be run across 10 health care sites nationally, ranging from metropolitan hospitals to rural area health services. Five versions of the chart will be tested in order to narrow down the essential elements, which would form the basis of standardised ORCs across the health care sector.

The project is due to be completed by June 2012.

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