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Is everyone really breathing 20 times a minute? Assessing epidemiology and variation in recorded respiratory rate in hospitalised adults
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  • Published on:
    Addressing challenges of measurement
    • Anthony C Camuglia, Interventional Cardiologist Princess Alexandra Hospital, University of Queensland

    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...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.