Patient monitoring  

Simple blood monitoring system could save UK NHS millions and improve surgery

Over 90% of surgery patients in the UK are failing to benefit from an inexpensive and simple blood monitoring system that could dramatically improve care for surgery patients and save the NHS millions of pounds.

The technology has a proven track record in significantly reducing post-operative death and infections, but the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has ruled that the technology falls outside its remit for assessment as it is "considered a standard clinical practice with risks and benefits that are well known."(1)

Haemodynamic monitoring of blood flow during and after surgery allows doctors to detect and deal with problems through accurate administration of fluid and drugs. In one NHS funded study, haemodynamic fluid optimisation was associated with a 1.5 day median reduction in post operative hospital stay and patients recovered faster and with fewer side effects.(2)

In another NHS Trust — Medway Maritime NHS Trust — the average length of stay after surgery was reduced by three days. This equated to an approximate saving of GBP800 per patient. Phase one introduction of the technology saved the Trust in excess of GBP1million in a year.

Professor Monty Mythen, Professor of Anaesthesia and Critical Care, University College of London, said today on behalf of the Improving Surgical Outcomes Group (ISOG): "We welcome confirmation by NICE that improving patients' post-operative prospects with haemodynamic monitoring during surgery should indeed be standard practice for patients undergoing surgery but we bitterly regret that this just isn't being implemented in many UK hospitals at the moment. NICE may think this is a standard practice but the figures show that this is in actual fact far from the case.

"Over 90% of patients undergoing surgery are not benefiting from a technology that is absolutely in line with Department of Health policy to implement the modernisation of care and improve surgical outcomes for patients. The NHS Confederation has also been urging Trusts to make the new NHS a reality by using new practices and technologies that can save lives, time and money."


1. National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (2006).

2. Wakeling HG et al. Intraoperative oesophageal Doppler guided fluid management shortens postoperative hospital stay after major bowel surgery. British Journal of Anaesthesia 2005.

Source: The Improving Surgical Outcomes Group

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