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Clinical news summary: Top nurse research and practice stories from February 2018

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Miss any of the clinical and practice news affecting the profession during February 2018? Catch up with our summary of the main study headlines and clinical breakthroughs.


Not recognising memory problems ‘predicts’ Alzheimer’s

Carer with elderly man

Carer with elderly man

Carer with elderly man

Not being aware of memory problems predicts the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, according to researchers, who say it could provide clinicians with insights on progression to dementia.

“This has practical applications: people with mild memory complaints should have an assessment”

Serge Gauthier

They noted that some brain conditions interfered with people’s ability to understand they had a problem, a disorder known as anosognosia.

The researchers, from Canada’s McGill University, have now found those who experience this lack of awareness have a nearly threefold increase in likelihood of developing dementia within two years.

They analysed 450 patients who experienced mild memory deficits who were asked to rate their cognitive abilities. Relatives were also asked to rate the patients.

When a patient reported having no cognitive problems but the relative reported significant difficulties, they were considered to have poor awareness of illness. Compared to patients showing no awareness problems, those with anosognosia had impaired brain metabolic function and higher rates of amyloid deposition – a protein known to accumulate in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.

Two years later, those who were unaware of their memory problems were found to be more likely to have developed dementia. The increased progression to dementia was mirrored by a rise in brain metabolic dysfunction in regions vulnerable to Alzheimer’s.

The researchers said the findings provided crucial evidence about the importance of consulting with the patient’s family. Study author Dr Serge Gauthier said: “This has practical applications: people with mild memory complaints should have an assessment that takes into account information gathered from reliable informants, such as family members or close friends.”


Dementia care improved by just ‘one hour of talking a week’

Older woman and younger woman, nurse, smiling at each other

Expanding privately assisted living (residential social care) and continuing care retirement communities

Increasing social interaction for people with dementia in care homes to just one hour a week improves quality of life and saves money in the long term, according to a large-scale trial led by Exeter University, King’s College London and Oxford Health Foundation Trust. It involved key staff being “upskilled” to deliver person-centred care. Previous research has found that many care home residents have as little as two minutes of social interaction per day, noted the study authors.


Use of ‘rigorous’ hand hygiene practice urged in care homes

Glasgow Caledonian University

Six-step hand-washing technique ‘most effective’

Rigorous hand hygiene-intervention practices can lower mortality in nursing homes, according to a French study. Researchers found incorporating measures that prompted staff, residents and visitors to wash their hands were linked to lower mortality and antibiotic prescription rates, and higher overall hand cleaner use.


Common antibiotics linked to E. coli resistance in children 

Public Health England

Campaign recognises ‘key role’ of nurses in preventing infection

Prescribers should consider curbing scripts for antibiotics in children with urinary tract infections caused by E. coli, according to researchers. They found antibiotic resistance in children’s E. coli was high when commonly prescribed antibiotics – including amoxicillin, trimethoprim and co-amoxiclav – were used and may persist for up to three months. The study, led by the University of Bristol and Imperial College London, involved data on 824 children under five.


Nursing staff could soon be wearing ‘copper-coated uniforms’



Source: Jonathan Zander

Native Copper

Hospital nurses could soon be wearing uniforms brushed with tiny copper nanoparticles to reduce the spread of bacterial infections and viruses, according to researchers from Manchester University. Working in collaboration with colleagues in China, they have created a “durable and washable, concrete-like” composite made from antibacterial copper nanoparticles and have also developed a way of binding it to wearable materials such as cotton and polyester.


Involving parents in intensive care helps infants and nurses



Involving parents in the care of premature babies not only improves their wellbeing but may also reduce conflict with staff and boost nurses’ job satisfaction, according to a study. It suggested there were multiple benefits to involving them in delivering direct care, from participating in ward rounds to giving medicine, rather than viewing them simply as visitors.


Early access to palliative care linked to better quality of life


Patients with advanced cancer have a better quality of life in the weeks before they die if they receive palliative care early on, according to a Leeds University study involving 2,479 adults. It found a longer period of palliative care was associated with fewer emergency admissions and hospital deaths, better access to opioids and less aggressive anti-cancer treatment close to death.


Major review reveals most and least effective antidepressants


Antidepressants are more effective than placebo for the short-term treatment of acute depression in adults, a study led by UK researchers has confirmed. The analysis of 522 trials involved a total of 116,477 participants and compared 21 commonly used antidepressants. It concluded that all the drugs were more effective than placebo, but with effectiveness ranging from small to moderate.


Pregnant women with hypertension can ‘safely monitor at home’

A female arm and a tonometer measuring blood pressure, closeup

Pregnant women with hypertension can ‘safely monitor at home’

Pregnant women with hypertension can safely monitor their blood pressure at home instead of going into a hospital or clinic, according to researchers at St George’s University Hospitals Foundation Trust. They found home monitoring reduced the number of hospital visits required but without increasing the risk of adverse maternal, foetal, or neonatal outcomes.


Short-term use of type of IV device is ‘common but risky’

intravenous (IV)

Peripherally inserted central catheters

Typical PICC line

Peripherally inserted central catheters (PICCs) are commonly used for five days or less when they should be reserved for long-term use, according to US researchers. They noted that over the past decade PICCs had become the “go-to device” for intravenous care. But they found that one in every four times a PICC was inserted, the patient did not need it long enough to justify the potential risks.


Short-acting asthma relievers linked to fertility problems

Short-acting beta-agonists

Woman using her asthma inhaler

Women with asthma who only use short-acting asthma relievers take longer to become pregnant than other women, according to an international study, including UK patients. Researchers found women using short-acting beta-agonists took 20% longer to conceive on average.


Nurses who clean the most may be at respiratory risk

infection control washing cleaning mop floor

infection control washing cleaning mop floor

Women who regularly use cleaning sprays or other cleaning products at work appear to experience a greater decline in lung function over time than women who do not, according to researchers, who estimated it was “comparable to smoking somewhat less than 20 pack-years”. They suggested it was caused by the repeated irritation that chemicals had on the mucous membranes lining the airways.


Asthma inhaler batches recalled due to dose delivery problem


Ventolin Accuhaler

Source: MHRA

Ventolin (salbutamol) 200mcg Accuhaler

Three lots of asthma inhalers manufactured by Glaxo Wellcome UK are being recalled. It refers to two batches of Ventolin (salbutamol) 200mcg Accuhaler devices and one batch of Seretide (salmeterol xinafoate, fluticasone propionate) 50/250mcg Accuhaler. The affected lots are 786G, 754P and 5K8W.

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