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Hospital launches review into coronavirus patient deaths

PUBLISHED: 16:23 06 July 2020 | UPDATED: 16:38 06 July 2020

Dr Frankie Swords and Denise Smith of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Picture: QEH/Ian Burt

Dr Frankie Swords and Denise Smith of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Picture: QEH/Ian Burt

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A Norfolk hospital has launched a review into the death of every coronavirus patient to ensure the very best care if it faces a second wave in future.

Denise Smith, chief operating officer at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Photo: Queen Elizabeth HospitalDenise Smith, chief operating officer at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Photo: Queen Elizabeth Hospital

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in King’s Lynn, has reported 152 deaths during the pandemic and has announced it is carrying out a structured judgement review (SJR) into each confirmed death.

As of the end of June, the hospital had treated 450 patients for the virus, of whom 291 have recovered and been discharged.

Denise Smith, chief operating officer, said in her report to the hospital’s board of trustees that 138 reviews had been carried out so far.

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Dr Frankie Swords, medical director at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn. Pic: Queen Elizabeth Hospital.Dr Frankie Swords, medical director at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn. Pic: Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

She wrote: “The review is performed by an independent senior clinician who collects a number of key data items including age, sex, severity of symptoms and signs at presentation to hospital, underlying co-morbidities, whether the patient was admitted to critical care, and the predicted clinical outcome for other patients presenting in this fashion.

“They then score whether any of the deaths may have been potentially avoidable as well as any learning or good practice should be shared from the care of that patient. The reviews we have undertaken have not indicated any shortcomings in our care.”

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Dr Frankie Swords, medical director for QEH, said many hospitals were choosing to audit all deaths from coronavirus but was not aware of others undertaking a full review into every case.

Dr Swords said: “We are very keen to continually learn and improve and this includes learning from incidents, complaints and deaths that occur in our care. Our medical examiner team speaks to the next of kin to identify any concerns they may have, and also undertakes a screen of the care received by every patient who died.

“This [review] has not been nationally mandated but NHS England does encourage all hospitals to learn from deaths, and many are choosing to audit all deaths from Covid, though we are not aware of others undertaking a full SJR on every case.

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“However, we also decided that we would undertake an SJR on every single patient that died in our care who had Covid. Covid is a new condition and the treatments for this are still evolving. We therefore wanted to do all we could to learn from what we did and how we coped with this first wave, to help us to plan the very best care if we do face more cases or a second wave in the future.”


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