Sometimes, the health of a patient in hospital may get worse suddenly (this is called becoming acutely ill). There are certain times when this is more likely, for example following an emergency admission to hospital, after surgery and after leaving critical care. However, it can happen at any stage of an illness. It increases the patient's risk of needing to stay longer in hospital, not recovering fully or dying.
Monitoring patients (checking them and their health) regularly while they are in hospital and taking action if they show signs of becoming worse can help avoid serious problems.
The NICE clinical guideline describes how patients in acute hospitals should be monitored to help identify those whose health becomes worse and how they should be cared for if this happens.
The advice in the guideline covers:
- all adult patients in hospital, including patients in the emergency department being admitted to hospital and those being moved between departments.
It does not specifically look at the care of:
- patients in critical care areas, for example in an intensive care or high dependency unit
- people who are having treatment for symptoms and pain in the final stages of a terminal illness.