Hospitals should use scoring system to spot serious illness in children, report says

BMJ 2008; 336 doi: (Published 15 May 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:1089
  1. Susan Mayor
  1. 1London

Healthcare professionals need to be better trained in recognising serious illness in children, recommends a UK inquiry report published this week. And it says that an early warning scoring system should routinely be used in hospitals to help identify children who are at risk of developing life threatening illness.

Failure by primary care or hospital staff to recognise potentially life threatening conditions is one of the major avoidable factors contributing to children’s deaths, says the report. The Confidential Enquiry into Maternal and Child Health, a government funded body, conducted the pilot study to test whether the confidential inquiry research method could identify ways to improve the outcomes of health care and social care for children. It concluded that it could.

The study collected data on all 957 deaths in children aged 28 days to 17 years 364 days that occurred in 2006. A multidisciplinary panel then carried out a detailed review of anonymised records and notes from a subset of 126 of the deaths, selected from across age groups …

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