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National Early Warning System

Early Warning Systems

Early Warning Systems (EWS) are used in acute hospitals settings to support the recognition and response to a deteriorating patient. The EWS focuses on:

  • Categorization of patients’ SEVERITY of illness
  • EARLY detection of patient deterioration
  • Use of a structured COMMUNICATION tool (ISBAR)
  •  Promote an early medical review, prompted by specific TRIGGER points
  •  Use a definitive ESCALATION plan

The National Early Warning System (NEWS) originated as a work stream for Acute Medicine Programme. On Monday 18th February 2013, the Minister for Health Dr. James Reilly launched an important new patient safety initiative -  the first National Clinical Guideline- the National Early Warning Score for Ireland. The National Clinical Guidelines are used to further improve the quality, safety, and cost effectiveness of healthcare across Ireland. 

*Score Will Change to System as part of the revision process. 

Outlined in the table are the four early warning systems (EWS) currently used in acute hospital settings in Ireland:

Early Warning SystemAbbreviationOriginating National Work Stream 
National Early Warning SystemNEWSAcute Medicine programme
Irish Maternity Early Warning SystemIMEWSObstetrics and Gynaecology programme
Paediatric Early Warning SystemPEWSPaediatrics and Neonatology programme
Emergency Medicine Early Warning SystemEMEWSEmergency Medicine Programme

The National Deteriorating Patient (Recognition & Response) Improvement Programme (DPIP) has been identified as a priority patient safety improvement programme by the National Patient Safety Office. 

The programme is divided into three work streams to effectively harmonise the EWSs and improve patient safety:

1. Guideline Development Project

2. Service Improvement Project

3. Education Project 

Clinical Strategy and Programmes Division