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National Early Warning Score Negligence

National Early Warning Score Negligence

The National Early Warning Score (NEWS) is a system that was introduced to the NHS in 2012. It is intended to detect critically ill patients and recommend the care required.


In 2012, the National Early Warning Score, or NEWS, was implemented across hospitals in the UK.

Under the system, a patient's vital signs should be monitored regularly, including: systolic blood pressure, temperature, level of consciousness, oxygen saturations, heart rate and respiratory rate.

Each vital sign is given a score between 0 and 3, with 0 being normal. The scores are then added together to create a single cumulative score. Clinicians should consider a patient's score against protocol, which recommends what care is needed in each situation. The appropriate action must then be taken.

For example, if a patient has a cumulative score of 8, NEWS protocol states that the medical team should be immediately informed, even if it is during the night-time. An assessment by a clinical team with critical care competencies should be conducted and consideration given as to whether a patient should be transferred to the Intensive Care Unit or the High Dependency Unit.

NEWS and medical negligence

The purpose of the NEWS system is to detect when a patient is deteriorating and to respond with the appropriate care, thereby preventing an avoidable death.

The system has proved to be very useful and has ensured consistency across hospitals. Previously hospitals in the UK would devise their own early warning systems, causing confusion amongst medical practitioners, particularly those who had recently joined a hospital from another.

Unfortunately, however, the NEWS system is not always implemented correctly. This might occur because medical practitioners:

  • Fail to regular monitor a patient's vital signs
  • Fail to attribute the correct score to a patient
  • Fail to add the numbers up correctly
  • Fail to take the appropriate action, as demanded by protocol

If these medical failings result in a death that could otherwise have been avoided, there may be grounds for a medical negligence claim.

Speak to a solicitor today

If your loved one has died because of medical incompetence, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us today. We will put you through to one of our clinical negligence solicitors for a free initial enquiry. After discussing the circumstances of your loved one's death, we will be able to advise you further, suggesting whether you could pursue legal action against the negligent hospital.

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