Strength in Numbers dedicated to my late mother Kay

Nurses’ poor handwriting and maths ‘is costing lives’: Death rate at two hospitals falls 15% when staff were given electronic devices to record information

Thousands of patients are dying in hospital each year because of bad handwriting, errors in maths and poor monitoring by nursing, according to a study. The death rate at two hospitals fell by 15 per cent after nurses were given electronic devices in place of handwritten paper notes to record patients’ heart rates and breathing. Researchers calculated that 750 deaths were prevented in a year at the two hospitals, Queen Alexandria in Portsmouth and University Hospital in Coventry.

Across the NHS, this means 37,000 deaths could be avoided if nurses were given the devices rather than relying on traditional handwritten notes from nurses. At present, nurses are meant to measure patients’ heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen levels and take certain other readings and note them down on a board at the end of the bed.

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