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

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


Suffolk staff nurse’s green cup innovation rolled out across hospital trust

West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust

Paediatric specialist becomes Suffolk trust’s chief nurse

West Suffolk Hospital

The idea of staff nurse to use coloured cups to indicate the presence of medication is being adopted on all wards by her hospital trust in East Anglia.

“We implemented Kate’s innovation across all hospital wards”

Marie Marfleet

West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust described it as a “simple change that can make a big difference”, by improving patient safety and outcomes.

Green cups are now being used to signify a drink containing soluble medication, to avoid it being tipped away by accident and to ensure nurses encourage patients to consume the whole amount.

This cheap and effective innovation was submitted via a suggestion box by staff nurse Kate Ramsey, who first came up with the idea while studying at the University of Suffolk.

West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust

Staff nurse’s green cup innovation adopted by hospital trust

Kate Ramsey

“I realised that the cups used for the water fountains, and for patients’ medications look exactly the same, with nothing to distinguish between them,” she said.

“I thought it would be good to have a system in place which easily flags which fluids have soluble medication within them, to ensure they are not accidentally thrown away, and that they are identified as a priority for the patient to consume,” she added.

“I joined the trust around 18 months ago, and never forgot about my idea, so decided to put it in the staff suggestion box,” said Ms Ramsey. “Some weeks later the transformation team came to me and said they wanted to implement my idea.”

Marie Marfleet, clinical project manager for the trust’s transformation team, said: “Kate’s idea is a fantastic example of an idea becoming a reality, and instantly improving patient safety and outcomes.

“We implemented Kate’s innovation across all hospital wards,” she said. ”It has minimal cost implications, and the cups are all dishwasher safe and hard-wearing.”


Steroid inhalers linked to higher risk of hard-to-treat infections


Steroid inhalers linked to higher risk of hard-to-treat infections

Brown preventer inhaler

Older people who use steroid inhalers for asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are more likely to experience particular bacterial infections, according to a large Canadian study. It suggested the inhalers increased the risk of infections caused by nontuberculous mycobacteria, which are notoriously difficult to treat and resistant to a number of common antibiotics. The authors said clinicians should carefully consider the potential benefits and harms of steroid inhalers in COPD.


Regular use of disinfectants by nurses ‘increases COPD risk’

infection control washing cleaning mop floor

infection control washing cleaning mop floor

Regular use of disinfectants is linked to a higher risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease among nurses, according to a study that looked at incidence in over 55,000 nursing staff in the US. It found certain tasks involving frequent exposure to disinfectants, such as cleaning surfaces, and specific chemicals in disinfectants, were linked to a 22-32% increased risk of developing COPD.


Improving lifestyle factors can help control asthma symptoms




Asthma symptoms can be reduced with improved diet and increased physical activity, according to Danish researchers at a recent European Respiratory Society conference. They noted that many patients were wary of exercise, fearing it could induce symptoms. But they found exercise, combined with a healthy diet, could help non-obese patients gain better control of symptoms.


New tool could ‘transform’ pressure ulcer risk assessment

District community elderly blood home patient dressing wound care

District community elderly blood home patient dressing wound care

Source: Samuel Irvin

Credit: Sam Irvin

A new tool that could transform risk assessment for pressure ulcers has been shown to be reliable when used by both expert and non-specialist nurses in hospitals and the community. Nurse researchers in West Yorkshire tested the Pressure Ulcer Risk Primary Or Secondary Evaluation Tool (PURPOSE-T). Their findings suggested it was suitable for use in clinical practice and could help improve ulcer identification and management.


Factors other than dress code ‘key to cutting surgery infections’



Skin preparation, wound hygiene and sharing data on outcomes appear to be more important factors than adherence to dress codes for reducing infections following surgery. Maintaining sterile operating conditions, at or close to the wound itself, and reporting outcomes were most effective in minimising surgery-related infections, according to a US study of 20 hospitals.


Women in preterm labour ‘need antibiotics to combat Strep B’

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Group B streptococcal infection

Source: CDC

Streptococcus agalactiae - Gram stain

All women who go into premature labour should be offered antibiotics, as a matter of course, to help prevent Group B Streptococcal infection, according to updated expert guidance. The revised guidance, from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, comes amid a rise in cases of the infection in newborns and concern about wide variations in practice on prevention.


NICE ‘bans’ antibiotics for majority of common ear infections


Paracetamol or ibuprofen should be given instead of antibiotics for most common ear infections, according to draft guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence on treating acute otitis media. NICE said the evidence it had reviewed found 60% of children with symptoms would show signs of improvement within 24 hours without the need to take antibiotics.


Latest fall in English MMR coverage by age two ’of concern’


Coverage of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine by children’s second birthday has decreased in 2016-17 for the third year in a row in England. According latest figures from NHS Digital, MMR coverage among two-year-olds fell to 91.6%, compared to 91.9% in 2015-16. MMR coverage of 92.7% in 2013-14 was the highest since the vaccine was introduced in 1988.


Guidance on supporting end of life care patients while flying

plane travel airplane

New guidance has been published for nurses and other health professionals to help support patients in the advanced stages of serious and terminal illness who wish to travel abroad by air. The updated guidance has been published by the charity Hospice UK.


Blood cancer charity launches online CPD course for nurses

Blood pathology

Blood pathology

Blood pathology

Nurses can now access a free online learning tool that has the “potential to improve patient care”, according to the blood cancer research charity Bloodwise. It consists of 10 chapters providing an overview of blood cancers, treatments and possible side effects, as well as practical skills and information on providing emotional support.


Draft guidance drawn up to ‘spot and treat’ Lyme disease

Ixodes ricinus

Draft guidance drawn up to ‘spot and treat’ Lyme disease

Source: Richard Bartz

Chelicerae of the sheep tick

Guidelines have been drawn up to provide “clear advice” to support clinicians in diagnosing and treating patients with Lyme disease, which is spread by ticks. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence said the new document would help healthcare professionals “spot and treat a potential diagnosis of Lyme disease” early.


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