Royal North Shore Hospital intensive care unit staff won this year’s NSW Health Patient Safety Award for their project reducing inappropriate arterial blood gas testing in a 58-Bed quaternary intensive care unit.
Arterial blood gas (ABG) analysis is the most frequently performed test in intensive care units (ICUs), often without indication.
Blood tests contribute significantly to anaemia, which affects more than 95 per cent of ICU patients by day three of admission, with half requiring blood transfusions.
“We are so proud of this project for three reasons. Firstly, the reduction in arterial blood gasses has been sustained over three years - we have not seen a slide back to our old ways of over-ordering.
“Second, the project was a huge team effort and shows what can be achieved by a group of clinicians who are motivated to make things better.
“Thirdly, this project is about empowerment - trusting nurses and junior doctors to use their clinical judgement and common sense to make better choices around test ordering.”
Chief Executive Deb Willcox said she was proud of the team involved and looked forward to seeing the projects continue to improve the lives of patients and consumers into the future.
This program involved bi-weekly case based in-service training over 12 weeks, departmental meetings, local ICU newsletter articles and closed social media group discussions.
ABG testing reduced from 4.9 to 3.1 per bed per day, sustained for 20 months. There was an absolute reduction of 71 per cent in the number of inappropriate ABGs.
This intervention will decrease cost, anaemia, need for transfusions, infection risk, sleep disruption and delirium.
Specialist Dr Jonathan Gatward said he was thrilled the team got to take home the award.
“It means a great deal to us to win this award,” he said.
See the award video below.