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Time is of the essence
  1. A Crow,
  2. M Davidson,
  3. J P McCLure
  1. Correspondence to:
    Paediatric Department
    Crosshouse Hospital, Kilmarnock, Scotland, UK; markgdavidsondoctors.org.uk

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Accurate time keeping is of great import in all resuscitation settings and none more so than in the medicolegal minefield of perinatology. Recent cases have shown accurate documentation is of vital importance, especially the recording of times. Two studies have delineated considerable discrepancies in clock times in patient care settings1,2; these may exacerbate any medicolegal issues. A prospective observational study assessed clock accuracy in paediatric and neonatal resuscitation areas in a hospital with three sites, separated by up to 18 miles. Senior paediatric cover was provided by one middle grade and one consultant, making accuracy of timing extremely important. The accuracy of the consultants’ watches was prospectively assessed without warning.

A total of 39 clock times were taken and compared with the true time as per the speaking clock. In total, the mean (SD) difference was −11 (40) seconds. The labour suite clocks had a mean of +6 (20) seconds. The neonatal unit clocks had a mean of −109 (107) seconds. When paediatric resuscitation areas throughout the Trust were compared, the mean was +18 (43) seconds. The consultants’ watches had a mean of +8 (54) seconds.

In the maternity hospital, the labour suite clocks have been changed to “satellite controlled” ones costing five pounds ninety nine pence. This has resulted in their close correlation, with obvious medicolegal benefits. The other clinical areas studied did not have this technology in place, but the results are considerably better than in previous studies. The accuracy of the consultants’ watches was exceptional, as no warning was given. This is a reminder to all to document times accurately and evidence enough that resuscitation areas in hospitals should use modern technology and have a centrally controlled time system to avoid needless errors in annotation. We leave you to take your own time to decide.

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