THE clipboard at the bottom of a hospital bed could be relegated to the past following the first NHS trial of its kind in the West of Scotland.

Switching from paper records to an electronic system dramatically reduced clinical errors and freed up nurses to care for the sickest patients.

The Golden Jubilee Hospital in Clydebank is the first in the UK to trial digital technology for calculating a patient’s Early Warning Score, which helps nurses determine how unwell a patient is.

It is based on the six vital signs including respiratory rate, oxygen saturation, temperature, blood pressure, and pulse/heart rate. Small fluctuations could mean a patient’s condition has become life-threatening.

Calculating the score manually - which is standard practice - there is up to an 80% chance of errors by nursing staff.

A new system piloted at the Golden Jubilee Hospital in Clydebank, where observations are stored digitally, reduced this to just 7%.

It allows nurses to monitor every patient in the ward at a glance using a dashboard and prompts staff if they need to take action. Nurses typically carry out around 72 tasks an hour.

Consultants can also monitor patients from home, around the clock.

The system is now being rolled out to every ward in the hospital and it is hoped other health board areas across Scotland including Glasgow will benefit.

Cameron Murray, Senior Charge Nurse, said: “As the system is quicker and more efficient, it increases the accuracy of calculations and improves communication between shifts.

“It has completely eliminated the need for paper charts and observation sheets in our ward.

“But the most important aspect of this is the benefit to our patients. Staff have more time to spend with them and it means that deteriorating or at risk patients can be assessed more accurately, with their care being escalated quicker.”

The technology was developed by Syncrophi Systems Lts at the Golden Jubilee so there has been no cost to the health board. The technology was unveiled at the hospital’s annual review. Among its achievements was a 12% increase in outpatients a rise in heart transplants from 11 to 15.