Hospital deploys new £700,000 computer system to improve patient safety in intensive care unit

A new £700,000 computer system has been deployed in an intensive care unit at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

The new Philips system will replace bedside charts, freeing up clinical time and improving patient safety at the NHS Grampian hospital.

The upgrade was paid for by the health board’s Endowment Fund, a charity which holds donations in Trust.

ICU clinical director Dr Iain MacLeod said: “At the heart of this change is patient safety. The system records physical measurements like blood pressure and heart rate as well as blood results and parameters from the various machines used in ICU, such as dialysis machines and ventilators.

“It will also save on staff time. Currently medical staff members waste lots of time transcribing blood results from a computer onto sheets of paper. The new system allows this to happen automatically.

“That’s great from a timesaving point of view but more importantly there will be a reduction of errors that can happen when writing something down.”

Fellow ICU consultant, Dr Andrew Clarkin, who led the project to install the new equipment, added: “The information coming in and out of the machines allows us to have an overview of the patients and while all that information was there before in paper form it’s more modern and more environmentally friendly as well as improving safety.

“Longer term it has huge audit and research potential. This is a database we’ll be able to examine and look at our processes and all the things we do in intensive care.”

The ICU at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary treats around 800 patients every year plus a further 400 cardiac patients.

Clinical information systems manager for ICU, Lieneke van Beijma said:  “All the information automatically arrives in the system, making nurses and doctors lives easier with a full digital patient record and electronic prescription system.

“This replaces the traditional bedside chart – it’s all in the computer system.”

Sheena Lonchay, manager of the NHS Grampian Endowment Fund, said she was “delighted the charity has been able to support the project”.  Sheena went on to add that the charity’s investment in the ICU reflected the generosity of patients and their families in recognising the care they have received from the ICU team.  

“The Endowment Fund exists to benefit patients in ways that otherwise wouldn’t have been possible and that is exactly what this system does,” she said.

Dr Clarkin added: “Charitable Endowments have paid for this project and improvement in patient safety – without that money, this would not have happened.

“Often families or former patients want to give money back to the unit and want to help future patients and genuinely this is something that will have a huge patient benefit, so we need to say a huge thank you to the Endowment fund  and those who have donated to it.”