Senior doctors hold key to preventing deterioration of seriously ill patients
Last week, charity Action Against Medical Accidents (AvMA) highlighted the report by a health watchdog that has found that cardiac arrests in hospitals could be prevented with better recognition and fast action on warning signs.
Researchers from the National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death (NCEPOD) found that more than one third (38 per cent) of cardiac arrests in acutely ill patients could be avoided. They were also highly critical of senior doctors, who they said were 'failing their patients' by not supporting junior doctors.
Report author Dr George Findlay has called for concerns about a patient's condition to be escalated to consultants at an earlier stage and for junior doctors to be given greater support to help them recognise the warning signs - which he says is not currently happening in hospitals.
As medical negligence solicitors, the call for senior doctors to play a greater role in the assessment and monitoring of seriously ill patients is one that we back wholeheartedly. We frequently handle medical negligence cases, involving many types of serious illness, where there were missed opportunities to prevent a patient's condition from deteriorating.
The findings of this study should act as a wakeup call to hospital managers across the UK, who must ensure that senior doctors are not only involved with acutely ill patients when an emergency situation arises. There is clearly the potential to prevent that emergency situation from happening, and junior doctors must be given improved guidance on recognising warning signs, and feel able to approach consultants for support.