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NHS launches tools to prevent dementia and falls for the elderly

by Tracy Williams

The NHS is introducing a range of new tools across hospitals in England that can help to save lives through improved sepsis diagnosis, preventing falls in older people and reducing the risk of dementia. The digital tools come as part of the NHS Long Term Plan. It is hoped that these tools can help to prevent problems through timely care.

Delirium and dementia

One of the tools helps to reduce the risk of dementia through the correct diagnosis of delirium. Studies suggest one in eight hospital patients suffers from delirium which can lead to issues of people feeling unsteady, causing falls and increases the risk of dementia. As a result, patients with delirium can expect extended hospital stays, and it may lead to admission to a care home.

However, it is possible to avoid many of these problems by first correctly diagnosing and treating people with delirium, A pilot scheme in Salford found that the tools helped to increase the correct diagnosis of delirium by 34%. This was completed by screening all patients over the age of 65 who were admitted to the hospital. With accurate diagnoses, the issues were avoided through effective, timely care.

The new tool offered in the NHS Long Term Plan allows doctors and nurses to assess patients on a symptom’s checklist on a handheld device. This is just one of the tools that hope to allow hospitals to implement improvements quicker and transform care for the benefit of both patients and staff.

E-Sepsis tool

Another scheme being piloted is screening for sepsis using digital technology. One NHS Trust, Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals, have a 100% sepsis screening in their emergency department. Furthermore, administering antibiotics to patients with sepsis within the first hour in the emergency department increased to up to 90%.

It is believed they are saving 200 lives a year through the use of digital technology providing early recognition and helping with prompt treatment.

Remote electronic record access

Another scheme involves equipping police with mobile devices with access to hospital records. This is to enable NHS staff and the police to offer street triage teams. These teams can provide support to look after patients and deliver the most appropriate response based on their circumstances and past care.

As a result of this scheme, the number of cases of police detaining people under the mental health act has fallen by 78% in the North East.

Other schemes include delivering blood results in less than 30 minutes through an electronic order system and introducing a barcode medication administration to help improve patient safety. More of these schemes, known as blueprints will be released later this year.

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