Trust named as finalist in Patient Safety Awards 2013

Patient Safety Awards

Captions: Kathryn Burke (left) and Tina Leppard are pictured on Langham Ward, Colchester General Hospital, where the fluid management chart (which Mrs Burke is holding) and guidelines (which Mrs Leppard is holding) were piloted.

19 April 2013

The Trust that runs Colchester General Hospital and Essex County Hospital has been shortlisted in the Patient Safety Awards 2013.

The accolade has been won for an initiative to educate and train nursing staff in monitoring fluid balance in adult inpatients.

The nurses leading the project, Kathryn Burke and Tina Leppard, now have to make a presentation to a judging panel next month (May) before the winners are announced at a gala dinner in London in July.

Measuring fluid balance is an important way of monitoring patients who are at risk of deteriorating.

It involves checking a patient's intake of fluids, such as drinks, intravenous drugs and liquid-based food like soup and jelly, against the fluids they expel, such as urine, diarrhoea and vomit.

Mrs Burke said: "The majority of inpatients will have their fluid balance monitored at some point during their stay in hospital.

"Before the project started, the Trust had different documents to record fluid balance but now we have one standard fluid chart, which has been improved as a result of staff feedback.

"In addition, we have introduced new guidelines which take account of the latest best practice and we have rolled out a training programme to nursing staff which includes face-to-face sessions, an e-learning package, awareness events and posters.

"While at this stage we do not have any qualitative evidence, I've no doubt whatsoever that the changes we have introduced have benefited - and continue to benefit - many patients."

Mrs Burke added that what was particularly satisfying about the initiative was that it has led to important improvements without any additional investment or resources.

Scales and pocket calculators have been paid for from within existing budgets to help nursing staff measure volumes and to update fluid charts accurately every four hours, day and night.

The project was led by a group that included a critical care outreach nurse, staff nurse, midwife and specialist nutrition nurse in addition to Mrs Burke and Mrs Leppard, who are both practice development nurses.

The Trust has been shortlisted in the "Education and Training in Patient Safety" category of the Patients Safety Awards, which are now in their fourth year.

Sponsored by the NHS Employers organisation, they are organised by the Nursing Times and Health Service Journal.

The Trust was highly commended in the Safe Clinical Practice category of the inaugural Patient Safety Awards in 2010 for helping patients with sepsis, an infection that spreads through the blood, causing symptoms throughout the whole body.

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