Publication date

Implementing paediatric early warning scores systems in the Netherlands: future implications.

Groot, J.F. de, Damen, N., Loos, E. de, Steeg, L. van de, Rosias, P., Bruijn, M., Goorhuis, J., Wagner, C. Implementing paediatric early warning scores systems in the Netherlands: future implications. BMC Pediatrics: 2018, 18(128)
Read online
Paediatric Early Warning Scores (PEWS) are increasingly being used for early identification and management of clinical deterioration in paediatric patients. A PEWS system includes scores, cut-off points and appropriate early intervention. In 2011, The Dutch Ministry of Health advised hospitals to implement a PEWS system in order to improve patient safety in paediatric wards.

The objective of this study was to examine the results of implementation of PEWS systems and to gain insight into the attitudes of professionals towards using a PEWS system in Dutch non-university hospitals.

Quantitative data were gathered at start, midway and at the end of the implementation period through retrospective patient record review (n = 554). Semi-structured interviews with professionals (n = 8) were used to gain insight in the implementation process and experiences. The interviews were transcribed and analysed using an inductive approach.

Looking at PEWS systems of the five participating hospitals, different parameters and policies were found. While all hospitals included heart rate and respiratory rate, other variables differed among hospitals. At baseline, none of the hospitals used a PEWS system. After 1 year, PEWS were recorded in 69.2% of the patient records and elevated PEWS resulted in appropriate action in 49.1%.
Three themes emerged from the interviews:
1) while the importance of using a PEWS system was acknowledged, professionals voiced some doubts about the effectiveness and validity of their PEWS system
2) registering PEWS required little extra effort and was facilitated by PEWS being integrated into the electronic patient record
3) Without a national PEWS system or guidelines, hospitals found it difficult to identify a suitable PEWS system for their setting. Existing systems were not always considered applicable in a non-university setting.

After 1 year, hospitals showed improvements in the use of their PEWS system, although some were decidedly more successful than others. Doubts among staff about validity, effectiveness and communication with other hospitals during transfer to higher level care hospital might hinder sustainable implementation. For these purposes the development of a national PEWS system is recommended, consisting of a “core set” of PEWS, cut-off points and associated early intervention.