'Treat patients as people not conditions': Doctors and nurses ORDERED to carry out bedside visits
Concerns that traditional practice of chatting to
patients at their bedsides every morning has become 'eroded'Terminally ill patients sometimes not asked for their views on resuscitation leading to futile treatment
Consultants told to team up with one nurse on the ward for daily rounds
10:50 GMT, 4 October 2012
Doctors and nurses have been ordered to spend at least five minutes talking to each of their patients every day.
Fresh guidelines issued today by the Royal College of Physicians say that daily ward rounds are essential for patient safety and care.
The advice comes after warnings that over-stretched medical staff were starting to see their patients as conditions, rather than people.
Suzy Hughes, chairman of RCPs’ Patient and CareGroup, said:
‘There’s been a gradual erosion in what I would call a good ward-round.
‘We do tend to miss there’s a whole person there, not just a medical condition sitting in front of us.'
Yesteryear: There are concerns that the traditional practice of chatting to patients at their bedsides every morning has become 'eroded'
Latest guidelines issued to medical
staff tell them to carry out daily hospital ward-rounds to check on
their patients’ conditions.
advice follows concerns that the traditional practice of chatting to
patients at their bedsides every morning has become ‘eroded’.
Some consultants have admitted that they only discovered their patients had been taking medication which can cause harmful reactions with their new treatment after they had been in hospital for ‘several’ days.
One elderly man admitted to hospital became convinced he was dying of a terminal illness because no one had bothered to tell him when he might be discharged.
Dr Mark Temple, of the RCP’s Medical Workforce Unit, said a recent survey had revealed only 13 per cent of very ill patients had been asked if they wanted to be resuscitated. This means terminally ill patients can often receive futile treatment.
The guidelines issued today by the Royal College of Physicians and Royal College of Nurses say that daily ward-rounds are ‘essential’ for patient safety and care.
They tell consultants – the most senior doctors – to team up with one nurse on the ward and visit each patient at their bedside every morning.
They must spend at least 15 minutes with new patients and between five and ten with those they have already seen.
Taking time: Due to staff cutbacks nurses do not always have time to accompany doctors on their rounds
Although doctors and nurses have undertaken daily ward-rounds for decades, the Colleges warn that this tradition is being ‘eroded’.
Due to staff cutbacks and the higher numbers of patients being admitted to hospital, nurses do not always have time to accompany doctors on their rounds.
But the guidelines say it is ‘vital’ that nurses come along so they can pass on information about patients’ medication, whether their condition has worsened or if they have had anything to eat or drink.
It is also hoped they ensure medical staff see patients as individuals rather than ‘medical conditions’.
Ms Hughes said: 'It’s a time when a trust and rapport can be built between the doctor and the patient and the nurse.
‘Mistakes can be prevented if the notes are read correctly and if the checklist is followed appropriately and if there is a good dialogue between the physician and the nurse.’
Dr Temple, of the RCP’s Medical Workforce Unit, said: ‘There is a danger that busy clinical staff have become too task-orientated and less patient-orientated in relation to the tasks that they are doing.’
He warned that NHS managers were inclined to shorten ward-rounds so doctors and nurses can concentrate on other targets.
‘If you are a manager in a distant part of the hospital you may see a ward-round as something that can be shortened.
'We’re all under pressure to save money and I think we’re saying that a ward-round is absolutely key to patient care and getting it right will save resources in the long term.’