Modified Early Obstetric Warning Score charts are instantly clear and they can save a life. What are they, though?
They are a single sheet chart, with time tracked across the top, where observations - pulse, blood pressure, temperature and a whole host of others - can be marked in the columns below.
Normal readings: fine.
Borderline readings: the box is shaded in yellow.
Dangerous readings: the box is shaded red.
One red or two yellows at one time and a doctor is required for 'early intervention'.
It is so graphically obvious, and a mother's history so clearly charted that, the idea is, a mother who is developing a critical condition will be treated before it is too late.
Sepsis (for example) is often already life threatening by the time it is clinically obvious. Therefore the best opportunity to intervene is based on the early warnings.
These charts are not routinely used, though. Some units do use them, others are looking at using them, and I believe there may be a national pilot some time.
I filled in Jessica's observations on such a chart a while ago and it is so obvious. You can see that she was very ill, long before she was showing the more advanced symptoms of sepsis.
When I was in Birmingham the other day I showed the chart to the conference. A midwife came up to me after I had spoken and said that her hospital had had MEOWS on the agenda for a while but that no-one had yet got around to implementing them.
She told me she was on the panel and was going to go back to work to get them implemented. Now.
I want these charts to be used routinely, as in other disciplines, and they should follow a mum home to the community midwife as well. How else is she supposed to know her patient's full history so definitively?
You can see an example MEOWS chart here.