Editorial. Alerts have become a routine part of our daily lives—from the apps on our phones to an increasing number of ‘wearables’ (eg, fitness trackers) and household devices. Within healthcare, frontline clinicians have become all too familiar with a barrage of alerts and alarms from electronic medical records and medical devices.
Somewhat less familiar to most clinicians, however, are the alerts received by institutions from regulators and other regional or national bodies monitoring healthcare performance. After the Bristol inquiry in 2001 in the UK,1 research showed that given the available data Bristol could have been detected as an outlier and that it was not simply a matter of the low volume of cases.2 3 Had the cumulative excess mortality been monitored using these routinely collected data, then an alarm could have given for Bristol after the publication of the 1991 Cardiac Surgical Register and could have saved children’s lives.4 Similar assertions have been made about detecting problems at Mid Staffordshire National Health Service Foundation Trust—that excessively high hospital standardised mortality ratios (SMRs) pre-dated the eventual recognition of exceptionally substandard care subsequently confirmed by other means.5 6. To read the full article, log in using your NHS OpenAthens details.