RCEM Recommends Better Recording of Vital Signs in Children Following Clinical Audit

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine is calling for better of vital signs in children who attend Emergency Departments (EDs) after a clinical audit found that nearly a third are not using a formalised scoring system.

Royal College of Emergency Medicine

A report published today by the RCEM into the recording of vital signs in children under the age of 16 years with a medical illness (as opposed to an injury), found that just over 30% of the 191 EDs audited were not using a formal system.

Paediatric attendances account for 25% of ED attendances and the timely and accurate recording of vital signs are important because, if abnormal, it can indicate a disease or underlying health problem.

Early detection of abnormal vital signs is important to allow the appropriate assessment and treatment to take place and prevent the patient from deteriorating.

However, the report found that documentation is generally good,with the majority of EDs using the Paediatric Early Warning Scores (PEWS) system to record results.

Dr Cliff Mann, President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine said: "This audit confirms that there is much good practice in Emergency Departments but highlights disparate assessment methods for these patients.

"The audit shows that one third of children presenting to emergency departments are infants – those below 2 years old who have limited ability to communicate symptoms and are therefore the most challenging.

"Paediatric Emergency Medicine is particularly challenging because we know there will be a few very sick children amongst the many children with similar symptoms who have a self-limiting illness