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Feature BMJ Awards 2015

Patient safety team of the year

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: (Published 22 April 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h1922
  1. Nigel Hawkes, freelance journalist, London, UK
  1. nigel.hawkes1{at}

Improving patient safety is a never ending quest. The shortlist for The BMJ Award for Patient Safety Team exemplifies how varied are the ways in which safety can be improved and outcomes bettered, says Nigel Hawkes. Two projects sought to enhance medical skills at the bedside to detect the deteriorating patient, two to reduce risks associated with innovation in treatments and in drug dispensing, and one to improve care of broken hip, a common misadventure of elderly people that too often leads to death.

Early warning sepsis screening tool

Sepsis is one of the commonest causes of death, responsible for almost 37 000 deaths a year in the UK. Prompt recognition is the key to effective treatment, says Kevin Rooney, who holds the chair of care improvement at the University of West Scotland, as well as being a consultant in anaesthesia and intensive care medicine. “With the right care you can reduce deaths by half,” he says. “But this needs treatment to be started within the hour.”

New technology provided the key. In a collaboration involving leading NHS bodies in Scotland, he led the development of a free mobile app “to make it easy to do the right thing for our patients and ensure that the right patient receives the right treatment at the right time.” At the bedside the doctor can open the app and enter parameters such as heart rate, respiratory rate, blood glucose levels, and whether infection is suspected. The app then calculates a score, based on the National Early Warning System designed by the Royal College of Physicians, and provides guidance on the appropriate treatment.

Since its launch in 2013, Rooney says, the app has been downloaded by 5000 users and has contributed to a reduction in sepsis mortality of 17.5% …

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