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Take a look at a selection of our recent media coverage:

Significant shortfalls in recommended asthma follow-up care after hospitalisation

12th January 2024

Over 80% of asthma patients hospitalised following an asthma attack are not getting appropriate follow-up care, a new study has found.

Data collected by the University of Birmingham, and published in the British Journal of General Practice, shows that only 18% of hospitalised asthma patients had a GP appointment within the recommended 48-hour period post-discharge.

The findings were worse for black patients, and the researchers suggest there are ‘serious inequalities’ in the follow-up care received.

Using electronic healthcare records collected between 2017 and 2019, the researchers analysed data from more than 17,000 patients over the age of five.

The findings show that the current recommendations for follow-up care of asthma patients are not being met, and primary care appointments after hospitalisation are falling far outside the 48-hour window for most asthma patients, with many waiting months for a review.

While 82% did not receive the recommended follow-up care within 48 hours, only 60% of patients had a primary care follow-up within 28 days post-hospitalisation.

Further evidence suggests that while just over half of patients received medication following an appointment, only 13% of patients were offered asthma reviews, and just 8% were offered management plans.

Senior author of the study, Dr Shamil Haroon, clinical epidemiologist and associate clinical professor of public health at the University of Birmingham‘s Institute of Applied Health Research, said: ‘Not only are most patients not getting care in the recommended time frame of 48 hours, but patients are being left for months and more before being reviewed.

‘We recommend that robust plans be put in place to ensure that these recommendations are being followed more closely, and greater scrutiny where they are not.’

The inequalities highlighted in the study also showed that black patients receive less care associated with their asthma management. The researchers estimate that depending on their age, black patients were between 27% and 54% less likely to receive the level of care that their white peers were provided.

Dr Prasad Nagakumar, paediatric respiratory consultant at Birmingham Children’s Hospital and senior author, added: ‘Our study highlights significant shortfalls in implementing the recommendations of the 2014 national review of asthma deaths for follow-up of hospitalised asthma patients.

‘It is time for policy makers to review the recommendations to reduce the health inequalities experienced by black and ethnic minority groups who also have a high risk of fatal and near fatal asthma attacks.’

A version of this article was originally published by our sister publication Nursing in Practice.

Discharge medication errors in England could be cut by up to 40%

28th July 2023

Medication errors when people go into or are discharged from hospital in England could be reduced by nearly 40% with the introduction of new digital information standards being rolled out this year, say researchers.

Analysis by a team at the University of Manchester found that medication errors would be cut from 1.8 million to 1.1 million (39%) by the easier sharing of information across hospital and GP systems.

They also calculated that there could be around 12,000 fewer people experiencing harm from their medicines, with 14,000 fewer days spent in hospital at a saving to the NHS of £6.6m.

But they stressed, there still needs to be a healthcare professional, usually a pharmacist, doing medicines reconciliation.

The standards, which first came into effect in October 2021 with NHS organisations having to show compliance by this year, should make that work easier and quicker so more patients can have their medicines checked properly, they added.

A report commissioned by NHS England looked at published research on medication errors in the UK as well as evidence from other countries where similar changes to digital information standards have been made.

Overall, they estimated that around 31,000 people experience harm from a transition medication error, with over half of these happening to mistakes made at hospital admission.

They also estimated that such errors lead to 45 deaths a year, 20 of which could be prevented when the standards are introduced.

This is not just a UK issue, the researchers said. Errors relating to medicines missed off the list, extra ones added, or wrong doses written down are common worldwide, and the World Health Organization has made it a priority for health services to find ways to reduce them, they added.

Speaking to Hospital Pharmacy Europe‘s sister publication Pulse, study lead Professor Rachel Elliott, professor of health economics, said the standards were being rolled out this year but it was a very complex process with lots of different stakeholders.

She added: ‘Medicines reconciliation done at admission and discharge has been shown to reduce medication errors. This is not about replacing that process but it is about making it easier to access the information which at the moment is all over the place and all the different systems can’t talk to each other. It is enabling the human element to be done more quickly.’

This article was originally published by our sister publication Pulse.

Higher ozone levels linked to increased risk of hospital admission for cardiovascular diseases

30th March 2023

Increased ozone pollution has been associated with an increased risk of hospital admission for a range of cardiovascular diseases

Higher atmospheric ozone levels have been linked to a greater risk of a hospital admission for a range of adverse cardiovascular events according to the findings of a time-series analysis by Chinese researchers.

Although there are a number of clearly recognised risk factors for cardiovascular disease, recent studies generally support positive associations of exposure to chemical environmental stressors such as air pollution, with an increased risk for cardiovascular mortality and morbidity. Moreover, some evidence points to adverse effects associated with exposure to ozone and which appears to affect several pathways associated with cardiovascular disease. In addition, other work found a statistically significant association between short-term changes in ozone and mortality for 95 large US urban communities. However, while these data link ozone with mortality, much less is known about the association between the gas and cardiovascular morbidity and for which, hospital admissions, could serve as a useful proxy.

In the current study, Chinese researchers undertook a multi-city, time-series study to explore the associations of exposure to ambient ozone with daily hospital admissions for cardiovascular diseases over a two-year period. The city-specific daily concentrations of 8-hour maximum average ozone (O3) and 24-hour average of O3 were obtained, together with data on both fine particles (PM2.5), inhaled particles (PM10), and other gases such as sulphur and nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide.

Ozone pollution levels and risk of hospital admissions for cardiovascular disease

During the two-year period, there were 6,444,441 hospital admissions for adverse cardiovascular events in the 70 cities included in the study.

The results showed that a 10 μg/m3 increment in the two-day average daily, 8-hour maximum ozone concentrations, was associated with an increased risk for admission of 0.46% for coronary heart disease, 0.45% for angina pectoris, 0.75% for acute myocardial infarction and 0.41% for ischaemic stroke.

In fact, the researchers also calculated the excess risk attributable to higher ozone levels and different adverse cardiovascular events. For example, that there was a 6.52% excess risk of an acute myocardial infarction (AMI) for a high O3 concentrations (≥100 μg/m3) compared to lower levels of < 70 μg/m3, which is considered to be naturally occurring level that is not due to human activity. Furthermore, the AMI risks were also elevated by 3.28% when ozone levels were ≥ 70 μg/m3 and 2.35% for levels between 70 and 99 μg/m3.

The authors concluded that ambient ozone was associated with increased risk of hospital admission for cardiovascular events and which was higher as levels of the gas increased. They added that these data should prompt the need for greater control of high ozone pollution.

Jiang Y et al. Ozone pollution and hospital admissions for cardiovascular events. Eur Heart J 2023

Fluoroquinolone use not linked to higher ED visits or hospital admission for suicidality

24th October 2022

Fluoroquinolone use is not associated with a higher risk of ED visits or hospital admissions for suicidality following short-term use

Short-term fluoroquinolone use does not result in a higher risk of either emergency department (ED) visits or hospital admission for suicidality when treating either pneumonia or a urinary tract infection (UTI) compared to other antibiotics. This was the main finding of an analysis using a national commercial US health insurance claims database by US researchers from Boston.

The safety of fluoroquinolones has been under the spotlight for many years. In 2016, the US food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a safety announcement in which it was reported that as a class, the medicines were associated with disabling and potentially permanent side effects of the tendons, muscles, joints, nerves, and central nervous system that can occur together in the same patient. Serious potential central nervous system adverse effects listed by the FDA include anxiety, depression, hallucination, confusion and suicidal thoughts. Similarly in Europe, the Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee has also suggested that healthcare professionals should advise patients to stop treatment with a fluoroquinolone antibiotic at the first sign of a side effect involving muscles, tendons or bones or the nervous system, including suicidal thoughts.

But how common is suicidal ideation among the general population of patients prescribed fluoroquinolones, particularly in the short-term, was the question posed by the US team in the present study. Equally important, was whether this risk of suicidality was sufficient to warrant either an ED visit or hospital admission and, if the risk was any higher than any clinically appropriate comparator drugs. The researchers focused on pneumonia and a UTI since fluoroquinolones are often used in the management of both indications. Several fluoroquinolones were analysed including ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin, moxifloxacin, gemifloxacin and ofloxacin. The researchers chose azithromycin and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole as comparator drugs for the pneumonia and UTI cohorts since these are commonly used alternatives for the two conditions. Participants were then matched 1:1 within each cohort. The study outcome of interest was suicidality which they defined as any hospital admission or emergency department visit and participants were followed-up for a maximum of 60 days after starting treatment.

Fluoroquinolone use and suicidality

A total of 825,420 patients with pneumonia and 3,463500 with a UTI were included in the analysis. The mean age of pneumonia participants was 51.4 years (48.6% male) although the UTI cohort were slightly younger (mean age 43.6 years, 8.4% male).

Overall, 0.03% of both fluoroquinolone and azithromycin users were either admitted to hospital or an ED for suicidality during follow-up. Among the UTI cohort, an identical proportion (0.04%) of both fluoroquinolone and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole users experienced suicidality resulting in an admission or ED visit. There was no significant difference among the pneumonia (Hazard ratio, HR = 1.01, 95% CI 0.76 – 1.36) and UTI (HR = 1.03, 95% CI 0.91 – 1.17) cohorts. These findings were consistent across the different subgroups based on sex, age or with a history of mental illness.

The authors concluded that the use of fluoroquinolones was not associated with a higher risk of suicidality leading to an ED visit or hospital admission compared to either azithromycin or trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole. However, they added the caveat that it was not possible to exclude a small increased risk or on suicidal thoughts that did not lead to either an ED visit or hospital admission.

Wang J et al. Association between initiation of fluoroquinolones and hospital admission or emergency department visit for suicidality: population based cohort study BMJ 2022

Triage nurse clinical assessment for admission in ED superior to scoring systems

6th January 2022

Triage nurse assessment of the need for admission from an ED based on clinical judgement outperformed several routinely used scoring systems

Triage nurse assessment based on clinical judgement alone, of whether a patient should be admitted after visiting an emergency department (ED), has been shown to be far better than several scoring systems. This was the finding of a study by a team from UOC Pronto Soccorso e Medicina d’Urgenza, Milan, Italy.

Overcrowding in an ED leads to an increased waiting time and some evidence shows that reducing overcrowding is linked with better clinical outcomes. Consequently, ED staff require some form of rapid assessment of patients to ensure appropriate disposition.

Although several scoring tools such as the Ambulatory (AMB score), the Glasgow Admission Prediction (GAP) and the Sydney Triage to Admission Risk Tool (START) have good predictive accuracy, such tools have not yet proven their worth.

However, an alternative to the use of assessment tools would be for nurses to use their clinical judgement but a recent systematic review concluded that ‘triage nurse prediction of disposition is not accurate enough to expedite admission for ED patients.

Nevertheless, there is currently a lack of data comparing individual scoring tools with triage nurse assessment and for the present study, the Italian team decided to compare these existing tools with the clinical judgement of nurses in predicting hospital admission.

They conducted a prospective, single-centre, observational study at a tertiary teaching hospital which has around 70,000 adult ED visits each year.

For the study, the triage nurse calculated a patient’s AMB, GAP and START scores and estimated the probability of admission according to their clinical judgement using a 0 to 100 scale.

Though the nurses collected the data to calculate each score, this was determined by the investigator team so that the nurses were blinded to the final score. Their own assessments were dichotomised for the purposes of analysis, with a greater than 50% estimated probability, used to define a prediction of admission.

The primary outcome of the study was hospital admission and receiver operating characteristic curves were generated for the accuracy of predictions and the area under the curve (AUC) for each tool compared.


A total of 1710 patients with a median age of 54 years (49.3% male) visited the hospital ED and were included in the analysis and among whom, 310 (18%) were subsequently admitted from the ED.

The AUCs were 0.77, 0.72, 0.61 and 0.86 for the AMB, GAP, START and triage nurse clinical assessment respectively and the nurses’ clinical judgement was significantly higher than the AUC of all the other tools and for all comparisons (p < 0.0001).

In a separate analysis, age, years of experience as a nurse, years of experience as an ED nurse and years of performing triage were found not be related to the nurse’s ability to predict triage and hence regression analysis of this data was not undertaken.

Commenting on their findings, the authors noted how this was the first study which directly compared the currently available tools and they concluded that while clinical judgement was subjective, it still provided good predictive accuracy and was superior to any of the other tools available.


Salvato M et al. Prospective comparison of AMB, GAP AND START scores and triage nurse clinical judgement for predicting admission from an ED: a single-centre prospective study Emerg Med J 2021.

Delayed transfer of care predictive model 70% accurate

16th November 2021

A delayed transfer of care can be reasonably well predicted based on eight routinely collected pieces of information upon admission.

A model which accurately predicts delayed transfer of care (DTOC) has been developed with only eight pieces of data routinely collected from patients upon admission to hospital. This was the finding of a retrospective study by a team from University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust, Stoke-on-Trent, UK. Within a hospital setting it is necessary to ensure not only that patients receive appropriate clinical care but that they can be discharged either back home or to another setting, in a timely manner. A DTOC has become associated with the term ‘bed blocking” and a symbol of inefficiency within the national health service, occurring when a medically fit person is unable to go home or to another clinical setting and thus still occupies a hospital bed. In fact, national data for England shows that in February 2020 there were 155,700 total delayed days, of which 103,000 were in acute care, amounting to 5,370 people delayed per day. Furthermore, a report from the Department of Health in the UK estimated that in 2014-15 the cost due to discharge delay among patients over 65 years of age was £820 million.

With such enormous costs associated with DTOC, the Stoke-on-Trent team, sought to explore whether it was possible to identify the specific risk factors associated with DTOC among those patients admitted to hospital following attendance at an emergency department. They hypothesised that the capacity to predict which patients were more likely to experience a delayed transfer could enable earlier discharge planning.

The team turned to routinely collected data within the hospital including age, gender, ethnicity, national early warning score (NEWS), arrival by ambulance, the Glasgow admission prediction (GAP) score and an index of multiple deprivation (IMD) for their DTOC analysis. Using data on all adult patients admitted through the emergency department between January 2018 and December 2020, the team randomised these patients into a training and a validation dataset. Using the above and other variables, the team created a predictive model that included only statistically significant variables. The final model was assessed using the area under the receiver operating curve (AUC).


There were a total of 132,311 admissions over the 3-year period which were available for the delayed transfer of care analysis. The cohort had an overall mean age of 63 years (52% female) and over 90% were Caucasian. Initially, 10 variables were included in the predictive model, of which eight remained statistically significant: age, gender, ethnicity, GAP score, IMD, NEWS, arrival by ambulance, admitted in the last 12 months. Using all eight variables, the predictive DTOC model achieved a sensitivity of 0.77 (95% CI 0.75 – 0.78) and a specificity of 0.70 (95% CI 0.69 – 0.70) with an overall accuracy of 70%.

In their discussion, the authors noted that for example, patients arriving by ambulance were 13 times more likely to experience a DTOC. From a policy perspective, they suggested that use of the model would enable targeting of potential delayed patients for more proactive support.

They concluded that future studies should examine the potential effect of other factors and which together with machine learning, could improve the accuracy of prediction.


Davy A et al. A predictive model for identifying patients at risk of delayed transfer of care: a retrospective, cross-sectional study of routinely collected data. Int J Qual Health Care 2021