Alder Hey leads study for early warning system for children

Alder Hey is leading on a new study called DETECT (Dynamic Electronic Tracking and Escalation) to reduce critical care transfers and to record vital signs.

The study has received £1.25m in funding from the National Institute for Health Research Invention for Innovation Programme (NIHR i4i) and involves The University of Liverpool, Edge Hill University, Lancaster University and System C.

Healthcare professionals at Alder Hey are currently using electronic devices to record breathing rate, effort of breathing, oxygen saturation, oxygen requirement, heart rate, blood pressure, capillary refill time, temperature and nurse or parental concerns.

The DETECT Study is the first research study of its kind in the UK as an early warning system for children.

The recorded data will automatically calculate an age-specific paediatric early warning score (PEWS), which categorises the risk of developing serious illness into low, medium, high or critical. These scores and signs suggestive of sepsis are automatically flagged to staff to help them recognise the early signs of deterioration, with a view to reducing emergency admissions to critical care.

Gerri Sefton PEWS lead, Alder Hey said “Developing an early warning system for children is much more complex than for adults. Children’s rate of breathing, heart rate and blood pressure alter significantly from birth to adulthood, so the model we use to judge how unwell a child is has to change with age. Children require five different age specific risk models, while adults have just one.”

Professor Enitan Carrol from the Institute of Infection and Global Health at the University of Liverpool added “Sepsis is a Department of Health priority, and the software platform will include prompts for the earlier recognition of sepsis, allowing implementation of time-critical interventions to improve outcomes in hospitalised children.”

“This will not only be beneficial for patients by targeting treatment earlier and reducing their stay in hospital, but should also prove cost-effective for the NHS.”

Martin Hunt, Programme Director, i4i “Finding faster, more effective ways to identify when young patients are becoming seriously ill is a major challenge – NIHR’s i4i programme funds the development of innovative technology to help solve healthcare problems like this and it’s exciting to see an already effective device for adults being adapted to help improve care for sick children.”