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National survey of early warning systems

Posted: 9 August 2012 by Rob Dabrowski


Researchers are conducting a UK-wide survey of midwives’ use of early warning systems (EWS), also known as MEOWS.


Survey taking

All directors and heads of midwifery will be invited to participate, and responses will help to map out current use of EWS.


It will also look at modifications that may have been made to account for maternal physiology and any problems associated with use.


The researchers, from King’s College London, hope that their work may ultimately lead to a reduction in severe maternal mortality.


The NHS Litigation Authority has agreed that a minimum standard is for ‘a process for the use of modified early obstetric warning scoring system (MEOWS)’. 


And the Centre for Maternal and Child Enquiries suggests the use of a modified EWS, however, no uniform system has been advocated.  


This means there is potentially a diverse array of systems in use, and inconsistency in the way in which they are delivered.


The results of the survey will inform of new areas of research in terms of implementation and effectiveness of EWS. 


A national survey of obstetric units in 2007 showed that the majority did not use EWS and only 19% of units regularly used some form of EWS.


The researchers’ survey is being conducted in conjunction with a separate survey by anaesthetists to see how the situation has changed five years on.


The findings of the survey are hoped to be presented later this year.


For further information on the survey, please email Sarah Beake, King’s College London, Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery.