Standardising ward rounds improves safety and communication outcomes

Standardising ward rounds improves safety and communication outcomes

A research study undertaken by Mater Mothers’ Hospitals has found that standardising ward rounds in a maternity setting improves communication and safety outcomes.

The results of the study, published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology1, show that the use of a structured tool for ward rounds improved communication with patients, increased the frequency of safety checks being performed, and improved hand hygiene without prolonging ward rounds.

Study leader and Director of Mothers, Babies and Women’s Health at Mater, Dr Mike Beckmann, said that ward rounds are an established cornerstone of inpatient health care.

“In many areas of medicine, ward rounds are the primary method of engaging with inpatients and their families,” Dr Beckmann said.

“It is during ward rounds that patients are assessed, given information about their condition, the prognosis is shared and care plans are formulated.

“When patients understand their condition and management plan, they are better equipped to make decisions and provide informed consent, they are more likely to adhere with chosen treatment regimens and there is evidence to suggest they experience superior clinical outcomes including lower mortality.”

The purpose of the study was to evaluate the introduction of a standardised ward round (SWR) within an antenatal inpatient setting with the aim of improving communication, patient engagement, efficiency and patient safety.

“Ward rounds fulfil a range of functions, membership is inconsistent, and they preoccupy key clinicians during peak times of clinical care. Consequently, it is not surprising that errors and omissions occur,” Dr Beckmann said.

To improve ward rounds, content for a SWR was developed by a team of consultant obstetricians, obstetric registrars, and Registered Medical Officer’s following a review of the relevant literature, National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) standards, and key  recommendations of ward round content from the UK Royal College of Physicians. 

During the study the tool did not require clinicians to radically change their existing approach and enabled the autonomy of the individual clinicians caring for patients. 

The SWR tool is now in use across Mater Mothers’ Hospitals.

Mater is committed to meeting the healthcare needs of the community through an integrated approach to health, education and research which is focused on delivering the highest quality of care for our patients.



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