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Reilly launches first ‘Early Warning Score’ for patient safety

The score is the first of the National Clinical Guidelines, and sets out how to recognise and respond to patients whose condition is deteriorating.

A NEW ‘EARLY Warning Score’ has been introduced to clearly set out how to recognise and respond to patients whose condition is rapidly deteriorating.

The announcement was made today by the Minister for Health, Dr James Reilly TD, who endorsed the system, saying that it is believed Ireland is the first country to introduce such a national scheme.

Patient safety

The early warning score is described as “an important new patient safety initiative’ and it is the first time it has been introduced in Ireland. It is for patients in acute hospitals and the HSE said it is “based on international evidence of what is known to work best”.

Dr Reilly stated “that the implementation of the National Clinical Guideline: National Early Warning Score for Ireland is a priority for the Irish health system”.

It is the first of the National Clinical Guidelines, which are to “help to further improve the quality, safety and cost-effectiveness of healthcare across Ireland”.

According to Minister Reilly:

It is clear that recognising patients whose condition is deteriorating and responding to their needs in an appropriate and timely way are essential to safe care and the launch of this National Guideline is an important patient safety initiative.

The guideline was developed through the collaborative work of frontline clinical staff, patient groups and key patient safety experts led by the Acute Medicine Programme of the HSE.


The Minister also commended the Acute Medicine Programme in being to the forefront internationally in this patient safety initiative and on Ireland being the first known country to agree a National Early Warning Score.

The National Clinical Effectiveness Committee was established as part of the Patient Safety First initiative in September 2010 in order to provide a framework for national endorsement of clinical guidelines as well as auditing to optimise patient and service user care. The Minister thanked them for their role in this new guideline.

The guidelines themselves are described as “systematically developed statements, based on a thorough evaluation of the evidence, to assist practitioner and service users’ decisions about appropriate healthcare for specific clinical circumstances across the entire clinical system”.

More information on them can be found at

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