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

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


Exclusive: First new urinary catheter for 80 years to be revealed



The inventors of a new catheter claim it could solve one of “the biggest problems” in community nursing and reduce discomfort, embarrassment and complications for millions of patients.

“It is really exciting because this is the first new urinary catheter for 80 years”

John Havard

They are nearing the final stages of developing the first entirely new catheter design since the Foley catheter, which has been in use since 1937.

Suffolk GP Dr John Havard – one of the developers of the new device – said he was inspired after asking district nurses what they would most like to change about their job. “Blocked catheters was the resounding answer,” he said.

Early laboratory trials suggest the new Flume catheter design is less likely to block than Foley models. It should also reduce infection risk as it protects the bladder wall from the hard catheter drainage tube and allows the bladder to drain fully so urine does not linger and fester.

Saxmundham Health/Flume

Exclusive: First new urinary catheter for 80 years to be revealed

John Havard

Dr Havard said: “It is really exciting because this is the first new urinary catheter for 80 years. The biggest difference, which we have proven in the lab by putting infected urine in it, is that it doesn’t block anything like as quickly and so will last twice as long.

“It must make a massive difference to the daily jobs of nurses if there are less catheters going wrong all the time,” he added.

Kate Holmes, a recently retired urology nurse specialist, is also one of the developers. She said: “The problems with the Foley have been widely documented and are borne out by my own experience.

“The Flume is innovative in its design and would reduce patient discomfort, urinary tract infections and blocking,” she said.


Nurses asked for views on use of maggots in wound care

University of Swansea

Nurses asked for views on use of maggots in wound care

Yamni Nigam 

A biomedical researcher has launched a survey with Nursing Times to find out whether a “Yuck! factor” is deterring nurses from using maggots in wound care. Yamni Nigam, associate professor at the College of Human and Health Sciences at Swansea University, said she was seeking the honest opinions of both general and specialist nurses as to whether they would be willing to work with maggots or not. The survey of nurses is part of a wider study looking at barriers to use for maggot therapy in wound care, which has also included a survey of the general public.


Burnout has ‘adverse effects’ on job performance of nurses

Ohio State University

Depression in nurses ‘increases likelihood of making errors’

Specific characteristics among nurses doing shift work can directly affect their sleep quality and risk of burnout, according to Italian researchers. Being female and “personal burnout” were found to be significantly associated with impaired sleep quality, said the study authors, who also found working in a psychiatric setting and a long cycle shift pattern were significantly associated with burnout. They also observed that burnout significantly affected job performance.


Government advisors back the adoption of new type of flu vaccine for older patients

mental health Elderly man with a walking stick looking outside

mental health Elderly man with a walking stick looking outside

Giving a new influenza vaccine to people aged 65 and over would be “more effective”, according to a committee of experts, which advises the government and other agencies. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation highlighted evidence that adjuvanted trivalent influenza vaccines worked better for older patients than other flu jabs currently on offer. As a result, it has asked those in charge of immunisation policy to consider switching to the new jab, starting with the over 75s.


Vitamin D may be simple way to ‘enhance’ burn healing

University of Glasgow/University of Aberdeen

Fish oil pills ‘improve muscle function’ in older women

Source: Marco Almbauer

Vitamin D may be a simple treatment to enhance burn healing, according to UK researchers. Patients with severe burns who have higher levels of vitamin D recover more successfully than those with lower levels, according to a study presented at the Society for Endocrinology annual conference in Harrogate. The study is the first to investigate the role of vitamin D in recovery from burn injury and suggests that supplements may be a simple and cost-effective treatment to enhance burn healing.


‘Electric’ bandage shows promise in fighting biofilm infections

Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center

‘Electric’ bandages show promise in fighting biofilm infection

Source: Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center

For the first time, researchers say they have shown that “electric bandages” can fight biofilm infection and aid the fights against growing antimicrobial resistance. They said the special bandages, which use weak electric fields to disrupt bacterial biofilm infection, could prevent infections, combat antibiotic resistance and enable healing in infected burn wounds. The dressing becomes electrically active upon contact with bodily fluids, said the US researchers at Ohio State University.


Common op may offer no extra benefit in reducing shoulder pain

The body has its own chemicals that it can produce to deal with pain

The body has its own chemicals that it can produce to deal with pain

One of the most common surgical procedures used in orthopaedics may make very little difference when it comes to reducing shoulder pain, suggests a ground-breaking Oxford University study. The trial to investigate the effectiveness of decompression surgery – often used to treat subacromial shoulder pain – found the technique offers no extra benefit when compared with “placebo surgery”.


Test could be used to ‘rule out heart attack’ much earlier


Source: beerkoff - Fotolia

Earlier use of a low-cost, rapid blood test that spots whether people are at risk of a heart attack could improve the treatment of people with chest pain at emergency departments, suggests a study by researchers in Scotland. They said the troponin test could accurately rule out the risk of heart attack in almost half of all people arriving at hospital emergency departments with chest pains.


Drug hope for severe hand pain in osteoarthritis patients



The debilitating hand pain often experienced by osteoarthritis patients can be successfully treated with a drug normally used for epilepsy, anxiety and neuropathic pain, according to researchers from St George’s University of London. They noted that usual care was non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and physiotherapy, but said their study showed that pregabalin was more effective.


HPV jab means women ‘only need three smears in lifetime’


Women may only need three cervical screens in their lifetime if they have been given the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, according to UK researchers. The team from Queen Mary University of London found that three screens at 30, 40 and 55 would offer the same benefit to vaccinated women as the 12 lifetime screens currently offered in England.


Schizophrenia patients may be helped by talking to ‘avatar’

Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King's College London

Schizophrenia patients may be helped by talking to ‘avatar’

One of the avatars

An experimental therapy involving patients with schizophrenia interacting with a computer-generated character that embodies one of the voices they hear, can help rapidly reduce symptoms, according to a new UK study. Findings from a randomised trial, published in The Lancet Psychiatry, suggest that “avatar therapy” could be of benefit when used alongside standard treatment.


Vitamin D supplements recommended for babies and pregnant women in Scotland

University of Birmingham

Extra vitamin D for babies and pregnant women in Scotland

Vitamin D supplements are being recommended earlier for babies and pregnant women in Scotland, due to weak winter sunlight during. Updated guidance said babies, from birth up to one year of age, and pregnant women should take a precautionary daily supplement. It stated: “We are now taking a precautionary approach to protect babies by suggesting that they start vitamins within the first two weeks of birth. This is earlier than the six months previously recommended.”


Unexplained resurgence of scarlet fever cases across England

Scarlet Fever

Scarlet Fever

Scarlet fever

Cases of scarlet fever are on the rise again and reached a 50-year high in England in 2016, researchers have warned. After decades of declining incidence, there an unprecedented rise in scarlet fever in 2014, with a seven-fold increase in new cases notified in the five years between 2011 and 2016. Over 190,00 cases of the illness were reported in 2016, said Public Health England.


New NICE asthma guidance ‘clashes’ with established practice

Older woman using asthma inhaler

Older woman using asthma inhaler

Objective testing including spirometry and FeNO tests should be used alongside clinical assessment to help diagnose asthma in primary care, according to new guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. In addition, patients who failed to gain good control with a preventer and were traditionally given a long acting beta-agonist (LABA), should now be offered a leukotriene receptor antagonist (LTRA) tablet with a preventer inhaler before they are given LABA treatment.







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