North Devon District Hospital told to improve wound care

A Devon hospital has been told to improve its record keeping around wound care following concerns about the treatment of five "vulnerable adults".

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspected North Devon District Hospital in Barnstaple after the concerns arose.

Inspectors found no individual cases of poor treatment but did find a failure to keep proper records.

Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust said it took the findings "very seriously".

The NHS trust said it invited CQC inspectors to make an unannounced inspection of the hospital after the concerns about the five patients were first brought to its notice.

Incomplete records

The five were all in-patients at the hospital between January and June 2011.

As they were classed as vulnerable adults the cases were automatically referred to the multi-agency Safeguarding Adults team, led by Devon County Council.

Its investigation is expected to conclude within the next two months.

Meanwhile, the CQC report, based on an inspection in July, "did not find that outcomes for people were poor" but "did find that wound care plans were not being reviewed and monitored sufficiently to ensure appropriate treatment was consistent".

It said: "People are at risk of receiving inappropriate care because care plans and other records are incomplete."

Wound care involves treating wounds sustained outside the hospital, during surgery or as a result of pressure sores developed while in hospital.

According to the report, the CQC found eight examples of wound care plans where the records were unclear about when treatment started or whether improvements were being properly monitored.

Improvement promised

Ian Biggs, South West regional director of the CQC, said: "In a busy hospital, good patient records are essential.

"Patients we met on the wards had no complaints about their care, although we have identified some key areas of concern, mainly around pressure damage and wound care, where lack of assessment and care planning could place people at risk."

He said the NHS trust had told the CQC it would be fully compliant by the end of September.

Jac Kelly, chief executive of Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust, said: "We take reassurance from the fact that the CQC could find no evidence that patient care or patient outcomes have been adversely affected where record keeping fell below the standard we would expect.

"However, we recognise we must take a number of actions to demonstrate that the otherwise high standards of care that patients receive at NDDH are backed up by the right documentation."

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