29 July 2012

Standardising patient charts

The Royal College of Physicians has announced a standard, National Early Warning Signs (NEWS), chart to be used across the NHS, to monitor the vital signs of seriously ill patients, in order to detect any deterioration rapidly and reduce medical errors. No one could doubt the sense in this. Deciding what measures to include in the chart, and how those measures are combined into a score, has been the work of a large committee of medical and patient care and safety practitioners, and the chart itself (above) has been designed in collaboration with an e-learning consultancy. With all the input, such a shame to have missed the potential contribution of an information designer or forms designer who could have increased the chart's legibility and usability.

[via BBC News]


  1. Lou Stubbings9:58 pm

    As a designer working in a hospital and being a Reading graduate this caught my eye! I am frequently designing forms (amongst other things, as I might go mad) and am always shocked by the poor usability of these charts. Often older forms are lacking in considered design for historical reasons, but the above new chart for national use is disappointing! Despite the rigorous committee approval necessary I aim to improve the usability of the charts in our Trust where possible, and fortunately have the support of management teams to do so.

  2. Now I understand why the Addenbrooke's forms for Assessment of Capacity to make an Informed Decision are such a lesson in clarity! This is an area I'm working in at the moment. If you have a moment, do get in touch.