More information about text formats
To the Editor,
Badawy et al describe, using statistical analysis, potential inaccuracy in the recording of respiratory rates (RR) in a large cohort of inpatients across a range of inpatient settings and add to the body of data suggesting widespread inaccuracy in the measurement of RR.1 The accurate recording of RR is an important safety and quality issue and the data provided by Badawy et al further underlines the challenges with measurement of this parameter in the inpatient setting.2 Having elegantly demonstrated the problem, the extension of this finding is a need to explore what methods can be potentially employed to improve the accuracy and recording of RR measurement.
Several potential validated solutions may be adduced to address the deficiency in accurate RR measurement and recording. First, consideration could be given to introduction of a system of audit whereby healthcare workers are observed recording RR measurements during their routine practice. Despite a likely Hawthorne effect, the results of this can be collated then non-punitively and anonymously presented to organizational governance structures and health care workers. This concept has been successfully applied into staff hand hygiene quality improvement implementation with this approach having been shown to improve staff performance in this domain with an attendant systematic reduction in adverse event rates.3
Second, the provision of technological solutions, such as a touch pad ba...
Second, the provision of technological solutions, such as a touch pad based application to record respiratory rates using finger tapping may also have a role in improving accuracy and has been demonstrated in paediatric settings to be potentially effective.4 This technology employs an algorithm whereby the interval between taps (each tap corresponding to a breath observed) is used to calculate a RR. This provides a real-time self-refining measurement of respiratory rate, with more taps generating greater accuracy. To further improve accuracy, and data utility, results could be directly fed into a real-time electronic medical record system.
Finally, complementing the introduction of data collection on performance (with audit of that data) and the potential integration of technological assistive structures would also be the promulgation of education measures. Education measures could focus staff on the data around the historical inaccuracy of RR recording, the assistive technology initiatives being put into place and the importance of accurate measurement for safety and quality. In addition, ongoing feedback to healthcare staff of observed accuracy, as done for hand hygiene measures, would also be important. Multifaceted education of this nature has been shown to be effective for other quality change initiatives.5
In conclusion, a combination of integrated observation and audit, technological implementation and integration and staff education could be used to address the important challenges in measurement of respiratory rate identified by Badawy et al.
1. Badawy J, Nguyen OK, Clark C, et al. Is everyone really breathing 20 times a minute? Assessing epidemiology and variation in recorded respiratory rate in hospitalised adults. BMJ Qual Saf 2017:bmjqs-2017.
2. Fieselmann JF, Hendryx MS, Helms CM, et al. Respiratory rate predicts cardiopulmonary arrest for internal medicine inpatients. J Gen Intern Med 1993;8:354–60.
3. Pittet D, Hugonnet S, Harbarth S et al. Effectiveness of a hospital-wide programme to improve compliance with hand hygiene. The Lancet 2000;356(9238):1307-12.
4. Karlen W, Gan H, Chiu M, et al. Improving the accuracy and efficiency of respiratory rate measurements in children using mobile devices. PLoS One 2014;9(6):e99266.
5. Naikoba S, Hayward A. The effectiveness of interventions aimed at increasing handwashing in healthcare workers-a systematic review. Journal of Hospital Infection 2001;47(3):173-80.