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Clinical news summary: Top nurse research and practice stories from March 2017

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Miss any of the clinical and practice news affecting the profession during March 2017? Catch up with our summary of the main study headlines and clinical breakthroughs.


Pioneering sepsis training rolled out across hospital 

A pioneering project to give nurses and other staff the skills to spot the first signs of sepsis has now been rolled out across all wards at Queen’s Hospital, run by Burton Hospitals Foundation Trust.

“It is no exaggeration to say that this project has and will continue to save lives”

Carla Golding

The programme, described by the UK Sepsis Trust as “ahead of the game”, was launched in some wards last year but is now being rolled out to the remainder after proving successful.

In the three months before the training began in July, sepsis screening for inpatients was at just 1% but rose sharply to 84% between October and December, said the trust.



Likewise, compliance for treating those with suspected sepsis within the 60-minute target reached 84% in the last three months of 2016 – up from 60% between April and June, the trust said.

The training aims to equip clinical staff to recognise sepsis, initiate rapid treatment and get them to “think sepsis”. A spokeswoman said the training included describing “at risk” groups so staff had a general knowledge and understanding of the illness.

They are taught that a patient should be screened if they look particularly sick and there is a suspected infection. The nurse should then complete a form and if the answers to its questions raise “red flags”, the patient should be escalated and treated with the Sepsis Six care bundle, which should be delivered within one hour of diagnosis

  1. Titrate oxygen to a saturation target of 94%
  2. Take blood cultures
  3. Administer empiric intravenous antibiotics
  4. Measure serum lactate and send full blood count
  5. Start intravenous fluid resuscitation
  6. Commence accurate urine output measurement

Quality support nurse Carla Golding said: “If you compare figures prior to the training to those in the last three months of 2016 the number of patients who were sepsis screened increased by a phenomenal rate. It is no exaggeration to say that this project has and will continue to save lives.”


Football helps mental health patients, find nurses


Organised football sessions for patients with mental health conditions like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder can have a direct improvement on their lives. Participants in regular five-a-side football and walking football have reported a range of benefits, including an enhanced ability to form and sustain friendships, improved fitness and a feeling of peer support, according to nurse researchers from Abertay University. Study author Emma Lamont, said: “Some players said that, at their worst, they had been unable to leave the house for months, but then after joining the football group gradually started feeling a little better.”


Pain management plans ‘should include weight loss’

waiting room

Obese patients are more sensitive to pressure pain than those who are not overweight, according to researchers from Leeds Beckett University, indicating the need for weight loss programmes to be part of pain management plans for such patients experiencing chronic pain. The study, in the European Journal of Pain, involved a group of 74 obese, overweight or normal patients who had pressure, cold and heat applied to the base of the thumb and near the waist. Dr Osama Tashani said: “Our study suggests that even in areas of the body which are not bearing weight, obese people are more susceptible to pressure pain.”


Accurate BMI checks for ethnic children for first time 


Source: Sanjay Goswami

Adjusted body mass index values that, for the first time, accurately reflect the physical makeup of UK children from ethnic minorities have been drawn up. Researchers from St George’s and University College London have also helped create a simple online calculator. Study author Mohammed Hudda said: “This research will give healthcare professionals extra help in making accurate judgements when deciding whether children, particularly of South Asian or black African origin, are underweight, normal, overweight or obese.” The findings are published in the International Journal of Obesity.


Nurse appointed as UK’s first professor of kidney care

Kidney Xray anatomy

Kidney Xray anatomy

A London-based nursing academic is being promoted to become the UK’s first professor of kidney Care. Professor Nicola Thomas, from London South Bank University, will take on the senior renal research and education role from 3 April. Her clinical interest lies in the care and management of chronic kidney disease within primary care and she also holds an honorary nurse consultant post at Barts Health Trust, where she helps run the East London Community Kidney Service.


New NICE standards on critical illness rehab care

Discharge after being in critical care is the start of a long recovery process for patients

Discharge after being in critical care is the start of a long recovery process for patients

Nurses involved in transferring patients from critical care to general wards should have a “formal handover”, state proposed clinical standards. Critical care patients should also have rehabilitation goals agreed within four days of being admitted to hospital, under the proposals revealed by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. NICE has also published draft standards saying adults and young people in areas deemed to have extremely high HIV prevalence should be routinely offered a test for the virus when admitted to hospital or attending emergency and emergency.


Low value script items targeted in NHS savings drive

Generic drugs

NHS England is to restrict the future prescription of a range of low value medicines, in a drive intended to potentially save £400m. The national commissioning body announced it would be leading a review of low value prescription items from April and introducing new guidance for clinical commissioning groups. Its list includes travel vaccines, gluten-free foods and fish oil supplements, as well as potentially some more controversial items, including some painkillers.


Hospital trust launches app for ‘paperless’ ward assessments

Weston Area Health NHS Trust

Hospital trust launches app to help nursing staff

Nurses in Somerset are switching to smartphone-based technology to communicate patient details and replace old paper-based system for ward assessments. Weston Area Health Trust has teamed up with the firm Perfect Ward to implement an app “to simplify ward assessments”. It will allow nursing staff to collate ward inspections on smartphones or tablets that can be shared and provide instant feedback. Sally Matravers, the trust’s associate director of nursing, said: “Our nurses were struggling with high levels of administration. The app, which is incredibly straight forward to use, makes the process easy for our nurses, saves us time and improves the detail and quality of our inspections.”


Nurses at new specialist wound care centre to trial app

Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust

Nurses at new specialist would care centre to trial app

A new specialist wound centre in Kent is to trial an app that should help nurses to heal pressure ulcers more quickly. The centre at Victoria Hospital in Deal, which opened its doors at the end of October, is staffed by specialist nurses. Nicola Osborne, Kent Community Health Foundation Trust’s head of adult clinical services for the area, said the WoundMatrix app would support “our nurses to track the healing rates of their patients’ wounds, by taking photographs and measuring the length and width of each wound at every appointment”. “Nurses, who already use tablets in the community, will be able to use this during home visits and beam the results to our centre for them to be looked at by our experts and get instant advice,” she said.

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