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

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


Fake nails do not appear to affect digital pulse oximetry readings

Varnish and polish


Nail treatments do not affect readings of patients’ oxygen levels, despite widespread concern, according to researchers from Ireland.

They found that, contrary to previous thinking, nail treatments such as acrylic nails or nail polishes did not affect readings from digital pulse oximetry (DPO) devices used in hospitals.

Researchers, from University College Cork and South Infirmary Victoria University Hospital, surveyed attitudes and approaches to the issue among a small group of healthcare professionals. They also tested the effects of nail polish of different colours and acrylic nails on blood oxygen saturation (SpO2) under varying physiological conditions – healthy, venous congestion, and venous constriction.

There were 86 responses to the survey – 55 doctors and 21 nurses – with 45% of respondents saying that nail treatments affected their clinical practice. More than 30% had intervened to remove nail treatments.

“Experimental data indicate the nail treatments specified do not contribute significantly to a difference in blood oxygen readings”

Study authors

But the experimental part of the study, involving 12 volunteers, found none of the treatments examined caused more than a 1% variation in SpO2 readings under any of the conditions tested, compared to untreated nails. Furthermore, none of the treatments resulted in an SpO2 of less than 95%, at which intervention with oxygen therapy is recommended.

The study authors suggested that hospitals should establish policies that do not require the removal of any of the nail treatments examined in their study prior to the use of DPO equipment.

They said: “Experimental data indicate the nail treatments specified do not contribute significantly to a difference in blood oxygen readings, therefore have no clinical impact on patient care.”

The research was presented in June at the Euroanaesthesia congress in Copenhagen in Denmark.


Ear wax removal should be offered by GP and community clinics, NICE says


Patients should be offered the chance to have earwax removed at a GP surgery or community clinic rather than being referred to a specialist, according to latest guidance on adult hearing loss from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. The guidance states that healthcare staff should not use manual syringing for adults with earwax. Instead, they should consider offering ear irrigation using an electronic irrigator, microsuction, or another method of earwax removal, such as manual removal using a probe.


Exclusive: Pressure damage scanner has positive impact in hospice

United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust

Exclusive: Technology may transform ulcer care, says nurse

Source: Bruin Biometrics

SEM Scanner

Nurses at the first hospice in the UK to trial a ground-breaking scanner designed to detect pressure damage say the device has helped them act sooner to stop ulcers developing and raises questions about the value of traditional skin assessments. Staff at the Marie Curie Hospice in Newcastle are the first in the UK to test the SEM Scanner with patients who have palliative care needs.


High tech wound treatment ‘no better than regular dressings’

Oxford University/Warwick University

Close up of treated wound

Close up of treated wound

High tech treatment of open leg wounds is no better than using regular dressings, suggests research. Recovery was the same whether a Negative Pressure Wound Therapy device was used or just a standard dressing, according to a study by Warwick and Oxford universities involving 460 patients.


Risk of nurse burnout can be ‘estimated by using saliva samples’

Medical University of Vienna


Nursing staff at risk of burnout can be identified by means of a simple saliva test that measures the anti-stress hormone cortisol, according to Austrian researchers. The hormone is predominantly produced in the early morning and normally falls again over the course of the day. But in those under constant chronic stress cortisol levels remain high, noted the researchers.


Blackcurrant cough syrup recall over mould risk

Child wellbeing

Child wellbeing

Some batches of own-brand blackcurrant cough syrups for children have been recalled because there is a risk that they may include mould, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has advised. The products are all made by GSL and sold as own-brand products in Tesco, Asda, Wilkos, Sainsbury, Morrisons, Superdrug and Numark pharmacy.


Charity begins pilot of online bereavement services

mental health sad depressed middle-aged woman

mental health sad depressed middle-aged woman

Charity Sue Ryder is to pilot an online bereavement service to support people dealing with grief. The scheme will offer people one-to-one video “chat” sessions with a trained counsellor who can provide emotional support and help with practical issues that arise when someone dies. The new service is accessible via the Sue Ryder Online Community website and will initially be a six-month pilot.


Frailty even during middle age ‘linked to higher mortality risk’

Men exercising

Men exercising

Patients who are frail during middle age, especially because of a long-term condition, are at higher risk of mortality than other people, according to UK researchers. Their study has highlighted the significance of frailty in middle age, especially in those with long-term conditions, and the importance of diagnosing it at an early stage.


Practice nurses to give advice on dementia risk in health check

man and gp

Practice nurses and other staff at GP surgeries will soon be required to give advice on dementia risk as part of the NHS Health Check, which is offered to patients from middle age. Public Health England has added dementia to the list of conditions to be covered by the free health check – the others being cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.


HPV vaccination has significantly reduced levels of HPV infection

Papilloma Virus


Human papillomavirus (HPV)

The human papilloma virus vaccination programme in adolescent girls has led to a dramatic fall in the number of young women carrying the infection in England, according to a study in the Journal of Infectious Diseases. HPV types 16 and 18 – linked to the majority of cervical cancer cases – decreased by 86% in those aged 16‐21 who were eligible for the vaccination as adolescents during 2010-16.


Test can identify ICU patients at most risk of serious infections

McGill University

Sedative may prevent delirium in intensive care patients

Source: American Thoracic Society

Patient in ICU

A new test can identify intensive care patients at highest risk of potentially life-threatening secondary infections, including from antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as MRSA and C difficile, according to UK researchers. In a study, which involved 138 patients, the researchers identified markers on three immune cells that correlate with an increased risk of secondary infection.


Study reveals time and day women most likely to give birth

090409 matenity birth

Most spontaneous births take place between 1:00 and 6.59am with a peak around 4am and a trough in the afternoon, according to UK researchers. Their study has found that the time and day that women give birth can vary significantly depending on how labour starts and the mode of giving birth. The findings also have implications for managing maternity staffing levels, they said.


Heart attack test ‘sensitive enough to be used in mobile device’

heart stethoscope

Source: Karen Roach

A new blood test being developed to diagnose heart attacks could one day be carried out on a simple handheld device, according to researchers, who said it could help staff to make a rapid diagnosis in accident and emergency departments without the need for samples to be sent to a lab. The test analyses the level of a protein called cardiac myosin-binding protein C.


Major heart attacks found to be ‘more deadly during colder months’



Heart attacks are more likely to kill you in the winter than in the summer, according to researchers at Leeds General Infirmary. They compared information from 4,056 people who received treatment for a myocardial infarction in four separate years. They found the most severe heart attacks were more deadly in the coldest six months, compared to the warmest.



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