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

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


Nurse-led study to focus on cutting child deaths from sepsis

Child in hospital

Child in hospital - mental health

Nurse researchers have begun a new study into why fatal delays in admission occur for children with treatable infections, such as sepsis and pneumonia.

“We know little about the factors that influence when children are admitted”

Sarah Neill

Led by the University of Northampton, the project will examine incidents of serious infection in children under five years of age – from the moment a parent realises their child is ill, through contact with frontline health services, to the subsequent admission to hospital.

The research aims to identify those points in this process where improvements can be made. The study authors hope it will identify ways to speed up admissions and, ultimately, save lives.

Sarah Neill, associate professor of children’s nursing and one of those leading the 18-month project, said: “Infection is a major cause of avoidable childhood deaths in the UK, particularly in the under-fives, yet we know little about the factors that influence when children are admitted.”

University of Northampton

Nurse-led study to focus on cutting child deaths from sepsis

Sarah Neill

She said the study would be “examining every stage in the child’s journey to see where delays may occur”. “This might be due to lack of easily accessible, reliable information for parents on symptoms, errors in information sharing between different parts of the NHS, or delays in being seen in an emergency department,” said Dr Neill.

“Whatever it is, the information we gather will help us to design service improvements so that children get the help they need more quickly,” she added.

Participating NHS organisations include Kettering General Hospital Foundation Trust, University Hospitals of Leicester Trust, and Northamptonshire Healthcare Foundation Trust.


Trusts told to use same NHS warning score for deterioration

clipboard admin targets nurse ward

Every NHS hospital in England will be expected to use the same clinical assessment scoring system to spot patient deterioration by 2019. The national early warning score (NEWS) system, launched by the Royal College of Physicians in 2012, is already used in around 70% of trusts in the country. But it is now being backed by NHS Improvement and NHS England, with staff in all acute and ambulance services expected to start using it. It has already been endorsed in Scotland and Wales.


Nurse-led team improving outcomes for pneumonia patients

Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Nurse-led team improving outcomes for pneumonia patients

Royal Derby Hospital

A new nurse-led respiratory infections team has reduced both hospital stays for patients with pneumonia and unnecessary antibiotic use, according to latest data. It was set up at Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to try and reduce the use of broad spectrum antibiotics for patients with CAP, in favour of targeted narrow spectrum antibiotics. Researchers said identification of the organism causing pneumonia increased to 22.9%, up from 4.9% the year prior.


Breathing exercises help asthma patients ‘improve quality of life’


AHT for treating leaky bladder or prolapse ‘lacks evidence’

Asthma patients who continue to have problems, despite receiving standard treatment, experience improved quality of life when they are taught breathing exercises, according to University of Southampton researchers. They also found the benefits were similar, whether they were taught in face-to-face sessions or delivered digitally – via a video and booklet – for use at home. The Breathe Study, which included 655 patients from 34 centres, is the largest trial to test such training.


‘Acute hospital at home’ scheme improves care for lung disease

Dorset County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Dorset trust latest to be told to tackle nurse shortfall

Dorset County Hospital

An innovative scheme that sees nurses visit patients where they live improves care for people with lung disease, frees up hospital beds and saves NHS resources, according to researchers at Dorset County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. They believe that if the scheme was more widely adopted across the country it could improve care and save millions of pounds. Their findings on the “acute hospital at home” were presented last month at the British Thoracic Society’s winter meeting in London.


Babies that feed themselves at ‘no increased risk of choking’

Labour Party

Warning over ‘huge’ variation in health visitor checks

Health visitor talking to mother with young baby

Letting babies feed themselves solid foods from as young as six months does not increase the risk of them choking, compared to spoon-feeding them, according to Swansea University researchers, who noted that baby-led weaning was growing in popularity. Their study involved 1,151 mothers with a baby aged four to 12 months who reported how they gave them solid foods, what they gave and if they had ever choked. Overall, no difference was found in choking levels between the two methods.


Developing type 1 diabetes ‘as common’ in adults as children


Patients ‘at risk’ over failure to recognise diabetes subtype

Man with diabetes injecting himself with insulin

Many adults with type 1 diabetes have been misdiagnosed due to misconceptions the condition is a childhood disease, claim researchers behind a new study by the University of Exeter. It found adults were as likely to develop type 1 diabetes as children, with more than 40% of cases of type 1 diabetes occurring after the age of 30.


Screening could ‘prevent quarter of hip fractures in older women’

Community screening for osteoporosis could prevent more than a quarter of hip fractures in older women, according to research involving more than 12,000 patients from Birmingham, East Anglia, Bristol, Leicester, York and Sheffield. It showed a questionnaire, combined with bone mineral density measurements, would help identify those at risk of fracture. Screening through GP practices allowed patients to be targeted for treatment and led to a 28% reduction in hip fractures over five years.


Spike in obesity surgery sparks call for greater practice nurse role

Nurse taking elderly man's blood pressure

“diagnose, intervene, live with chronic condition”

Practice nurses should have a greater role in follow-up and advice for patients that have undergone bariatric surgery due to the huge increase in such operations, according to the European Association for the Study of Obesity. As a result, it has drawn up new guidelines for primary care covering nutrition, the management of co-morbidities, pregnancy, psychological issues as well as weight regain prevention.


Exeter A&E staff giving ‘bags of comfort to patients in need’

Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Exeter A&E staff giving ‘bags of comfort to patients in need’

The Exeter emergency department team with some of the comfort bags

Emergency staff at Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital NHS Foundation Trust have started a campaign to provide clothing and essential personal items for vulnerable patients after discharge. The Comfort Exeter initiative includes a clothing bank, with a supply of items for patients whose own clothes may have needed to be removed or cut away, and “comfort bags” containing essentials such as toiletries. Staff nurse Jen Turner-Steel said: “The project in essence is very simple; a set of dry clothes and a bag of a few basic essentials to help a person on their way.”


Campaign to cut sexual infections by encouraging condom use

Public Health England

Campaign to cut sexual infections by encouraging condom use

PHE has launched Protect against STIs featuring emojis

A sexual health campaign featuring emojis has been launched by Public Health England to encourage condom use by young adults to reduce “too high” rates of sexually transmitted infection. The first national sexual health campaign in eight years, Protect against STIs aims to reduce the STI rates among 16- to 24-year-olds through condom usage.


Hospital nurses urged to carry out more frailty assessments

Elderly woman in bed

Hospitals are under pressure from rising numbers of emergency admissions, particularly among frail elderly patients

Hospital nurses could do more to identity the needs of the most vulnerable patients when they are admitted, suggests a new report on frailty in acute care. The report, published by the National Institute for Health Research, draws together findings from more than 50 recent and ongoing studies, with the aim of raising awareness of the specific needs of frail and elderly patients.

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