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Nursing Times Awards Finalist - 'Patient Safety Improvement'


Staff on Ward 8 at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital have been shortlisted for the Nursing Times Award - ‘Patient Safety Improvement’

Ward 8 is a vascular surgical ward where between 30-40% of patients have diabetes.

Diabetes can affect the blood supply to the vascular system and in severe cases can cause major obstruction leading to peripheral arterial disease or critical limb ischaemia which require either surgical or radiological intervention. In extreme cases, it can lead to amputation of the lower limb

Ensuring that glycaemia, a patient’s blood glucose level, is under control before a diabetic patient undergoes surgery is extremely important. Yet, despite following national guidelines, surgical wards across the country remain a high risk area for this group of patients.

An audit carried out on Ward 8 during 2014 highlighted higher than expected rates of hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose levels) and insulin errors in diabetic patients on this ward.

As a result, the team introduced a new, three stage initiatives which over a three year period has seen signification reductions is hypoglycaemia rates (50%), insulin errors (70%) and overall patient harm (75%).

This immense achievement was made possible through refreshed education and guidelines; establishing a daily diabetes specialist nurse ‘in-reach’ service to the ward; and an innovative whiteboard alert system using a red sugar cube icon to identify patients whose glycaemic levels were difficult to control.

“Diabetes affects more than 15% of the UK surgical population and this percentage is continuing to rise,” explained Angela Adams, senior sister on Ward 8.

“A number of national reports have consistently identified surgical wards as high-risk areas for people with diabetes, including the NCEPOD which identified poor diabetes care as a particular problem in vascular patients undergoing major limb amputation.

“When the trust signed up to the 3-year National Sign-Up-to-Safety campaign in 2015, we recognised a tremendous opportunity to improve diabetes care for our patients, and were inspired to embark on a 3-year quality improvement project.

Angela added: “We are delighted to be able to report such radically successful results which wouldn’t have been possible without strong clinical leadership, and the unanimous willingness of our multi-disciplinary team to participate in every aspect of the initiative. I’m extremely proud of the whole team.”

Maurya Cushlow, Executive Chief Nurse for the Newcastle Hospitals said: “This is fantastic news. Being announced as a finalist for the Nursing Times Awards is great recognition for the work our nurses do every day, making a difference to patients.

“Both our finalists this year are great examples of innovation and nursing leadership in practice.”

The Nursing Times Awards  ceremony will take place on Wednesday 31st October 2018.

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