Paediatric early warning systems (PEWS) alert health professionals to signs of a child’s deterioration with the intention of triggering an urgent review and escalating care. They can reduce unplanned critical care transfer, cardiac arrest, and death. Electronic systems may be superior to paper-based systems. The objective of the study was to critically explore the initial experiences and perceptions of health professionals about the acceptability of DETECT e-PEWS, and what factors influence its acceptability.
A descriptive qualitative study (part of The DETECT study) was undertaken February 2020-2021. Single, semi-structured telephone interviews were used. The setting was a tertiary children’s hospital, UK. The participants were health professionals working in study setting and using DETECT e-PEWS. Sampling was undertaken using a mix of convenience and snowballing techniques. Participants represented two user-groups: ‘documenting vital signs’ (D-VS) and ‘responding to vital signs’ (R-VS). Perceptions of clinical utility and acceptability of DETECT e-PEWS were derived from thematic analysis of transcripts.
Fourteen HPs (12 nurses, 2 doctors) participated with seven in D-VS and seven in the R-VS group. Three main themes were identified: complying with DETECT e-PEWS, circumventing DETECT e-PEWS, and disregarding DETECT e-PEWS. Overall clinical utility and acceptability were deemed good for HPs in the D-VS group but there was diversity in perception in the R-VS group (nurses found it more acceptable than doctors). Compliance was better in the D-VS group where use of DETECT e-PEWS was mandated and used more consistently. Some health professionals circumvented DETECT e-PEWS and fell back into old habits. Doctors (R-VS) did not consistently engage with DETECT e-PEWS, which reduced the acceptability of the system, even in those who thought the system brought benefits.
Speed and accuracy of real-time data, automation of triggering alerts and improved situational awareness were key factors that contributed to the acceptability of DETECT e-PEWS. Mandating use of both recording and responding aspects of DETECT e-PEWS is needed to ensure full implementation.