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A national cross sectional survey of heads of midwifery services of uptake, benefits and barriers to use of obstetric early warning systems (EWS) by midwives.

Bick, D.E., Sandall, J., Furuta, M., Wee, M. Y.K., Isaacs, R., Smith, G. B., Beake, S., Van Teijlingen, E., Hundley, V., Sheppard, Z., Thomas, S., Allen , H. and on behalf of the Modified Obstetric Early Warning Systems (Mobs) Research Group, , 2014. A national cross sectional survey of heads of midwifery services of uptake, benefits and barriers to use of obstetric early warning systems (EWS) by midwives. Midwifery, 30 (11), 1140-1146.

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Bick%20et%20al.%20%282014%29%20-%20Midwifery%20EWS%20Paper_for%20BURO-1.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.


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DOI: 10.1016/j.midw.2014.03.016


Objective to identify the extent to which Early Warning Systems (EWS) are used by midwives in the United Kingdom (UK), the maternity settings they are used in, physiological parameters used to ‘trigger’ referral, training provision, barriers to implementation and role in preventing maternal morbidity. Design cross-sectional survey of heads of midwifery services. An email questionnaire was sent in September 2012. Setting UK NHS secondary care organisations providing maternity care. Findings heads of midwifery from 107 (68%) of 157 NHS organisations responded, with 108 questionnaires returned as two organisations had recently merged. All organisations, apart from one which only had a free-standing midwifery unit, had introduced EWS. Nearly all respondents (99%) reported EWS were used by midwives antenatally, 76% in labour and 100% on the postnatal ward. All EWS charts included body temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate, systolic blood pressure and oxygen saturation although parameters for escalation varied widely. Barriers to use of EWS by midwives included overlap with the partogram in labour, and staff shortages and delays obtaining clinical review when referral was triggered. Two-thirds considered EWS prevented maternal morbidity although few could provide supporting evidence, for example, audit findings. Training for midwives in use of EWS was available in 83% of organisations. Conclusion most UK midwives are using EWS, with the highest use in obstetric units. The heterogeneity of EWS currently used potentially limits collation of evidence to inform appropriate system level responses. Research is needed to evaluate the role of EWS to prevent maternal morbidity during and after pregnancy in different maternity settings.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:Obstetric Early Warning Systems; Midwifery; Maternal morbidity; Adverse events; Patient safety
Group:Faculty of Health & Social Sciences
ID Code:22169
Deposited By: Unnamed user with email symplectic@symplectic
Deposited On:06 Jul 2015 15:45
Last Modified:01 Dec 2015 09:37


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