An extra voice for bedside care

A family member or close friend is often well placed to detect a sudden or life-threatening change in the condition of a hospital patient.

But some consumers are not sure when and how to raise concerns about a patient’s deterioration with busy health professionals in hectic hospital settings.

In one of the first studies of its kind, Flinders University College of Nursing and Health Sciences researcher Dr Lindy King and her team have developed a consumer reporting of patient deterioration model for use in SA public hospitals and other health services.

The key message of the model is captured by the catchphrase ‘You’re worried, we’re listening’.

“Sometimes people are unsure or scared to speak out about their concerns about a patient to health professionals,” says Dr King, a Senior Lecturer in Nursing at Flinders University on International Nursing Day on 12 May.

“They might be too scared to speak out with medical professionals who are very busy, and make their work burden greater. They also want a sense of assurance that their concerns will be listened to and acted upon.

“So for the first time, we’ve worked with consumers to approach health professionals with the expectation they’ll listen.

A range of educational materials for the general public, including audio, video and posters, are being used to roll out the new Consumer Initiated Escalation of Care policy being development by SA Health.

Supported by fellow Flinders academics and SA Health local health network clinicians – including Professor Robyn Clark, Professor Hugh Grantham, Dr Karleen Thornton, Dr Ingrid Belan, Mr Guy Peacock, Dr Shahid Ullah and Professor Michael Kidd – the next study will test the educational materials in practice in a major metropolitan hospital. Along with the development of educational materials, a survey tool was validated thanks to a Flinders University Category 1 Near Miss Research Grant.

Dr King will present on the new Consumer Initiated Escalation of Care project at the annual SA Nursing & Midwifery Research Symposium at the SA Health and Medical Research Institute in Adelaide next week.

The annual research symposium, involving the SA Chief Nursing and Midwifery Office, Flinders University, University of SA and Adelaide University, is held in May to coincide with International Nurses’ and Midwives’ Days.

The aim of the symposium is to showcase the diversity and quality of research that is being undertaken by nurses and midwives in South Australia.

Dr Lindy King and Sharon Ranse, a midwifery lecturer at Flinders, are among the finalists in this year’s SA Health South Australian Nursing and Midwifery Excellence Awards.

Dr King won the Excellence in Innovation in Clinical Research – Registered Nurse / Registered Midwife category. Catherine Jeffs, from the Northern Adelaide Palliative Service, and Dr Julie Fleet, from UniSA, were other finalists in the section.


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