When a patient is admitted to hospital and has perhaps undergone surgery, they will need to be monitored. This may be for a number of possible issues depending on the reason for their admission to hospital in the first place. For example

• Following surgery patients have a higher risk of contracting an infection
• Problems relating to blood pressure
• Problems relating to hydration of the patient
• Two thirds of all blood clots are formed following surgery, in particular orthopaedic surgery

Blood clots can be caused by a variety of factors but two thirds of all blood clots occur during or just after surgery. There are a variety of factors that increase the chances of a blood clot occurring, such as undergoing lengthy surgery, particularly orthopaedic surgery. They can occur in any patient but some patients have a higher risk, for example, those aged over 40, smokers, or the morbidly obese have higher risk factors than others.

VTE – Venous Thromboembolism or blood clot – is the term that covers both pulmonary embolisms and Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). A 2007 report by the National Patient Safety Agency found that VTE is the cause of death for 10% of all patients who die in hospital. There are also high costs associated with treating long term disabilities caused to VTE patients who survive.

Approximately 25,000 people in England die each year from VTE contracted in hospital which is more than deaths from breast cancer, Aids and road traffic accidents combined, and 25 times the number who die from MRSA.

In general problems which relate to the monitoring of acutely ill patients are to do with recognising patient deterioration and providing the appropriate resuscitation or remedy
• Staff take too long to recognise that a patient is deteriorating
• Staff do not always act to address the deterioration once it has been identified
• The right staff are not always available to be able to recognise a specific deterioration