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Safety Thermometer system revolutionises data collection

08 Jun 2012 12:37:25

An NHS employee has transformed the way that specific safety data is captured and reported as part of a national NHS reporting requirement. 

Matthew Smith, a programme developer at The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust (TRFT), supported by the Quality and Standards team, has set the organisation ahead of its peers through the development of a Safety Thermometer data collection process - giving the Trust its own unique way of collecting information.  

The Safety Thermometer collects information from wards to ensure that patients are kept safe and risk of harm is minimised. Data is collected from every patient at the Trust on the second Tuesday of each month. The type of data collected includes information about VTE, falls, pressure ulcers and catheterisation as well as localised information such as fluid balance, bed rails assessments and general observations 

Matthew took the existing spreadsheet model of the Safety Thermometer system, available nationally to Trusts, and created a more sophisticated approach, based on the system already in use for the Trust’s ‘Ward to Board’ reporting purposes. 

The system uses simple paper based forms, completed by ward staff then scanned and analysed by a computer to produce web-based reports viewed by staff via the Trust’s intranet (inSite). Using a computer to read the data reduces risk of error and can contribute to more accurate reporting. 

The Safety Thermometer allows wards to improve standards and benchmark themselves against other departments and provides data in ‘real-time’.  

Gail Smith, Matron Specialist Medicine , commented: “Matthew has been really supportive throughout the implementation of the new system and we have also received great support from the Trust’s corporate Quality and Standards team. 

“It took a bit of time to get our heads round the IT part of the system but it’s simple once you get used to it. The new system is a vital tool for constantly driving and improving quality on the wards.” 

Data from the safety thermometer is fed back to the main NHS Information Centre (based in Leeds) who then analyse the data to ensure that Trusts around the UK are meeting safety standards.  

The Trust is a national leader when it comes to the Safety Thermometer data collection process and has shared best practice in this area with many other Trusts. 


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