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North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust - 70 years of the NHS


Home > News > New nursing roles have led to reduction in surgical infections at North Cumbria's hospitals

New nursing roles have led to reduction in surgical infections at North Cumbria's hospitals

Posted on Monday 14th November 2016
New nursing roles have led to reduction in surgical infections at North Cumbria's hospitals

Patients who undergo orthopaedic surgery at North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust can now benefit from a dedicated service to help reduce the risk of infections in surgical wounds.

Two specialist nurses were appointed in late 2014 with the aim of spotting any potential problems with wounds before they could develop into a serious infection.

Sandra Williamson is surgical site infection surveillance nurse at West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven and Julie Mattinson carries out the same role at the Cumberland Infirmary, Carlisle.

The posts were created as part of a series of measures put in place after the Care Quality Commission (CQC) highlighted higher than expected cases of surgical wound infections within the Trust.

Sandra and Julie carry out surveillance on patients who have had elective hip or knee replacements, or neck of femur (hip fracture) surgery.

Since the specialist nurses started their work a number of improvements have been made:

A treatment room has been set up to allow dressings to be checked away from the ward

Bed scales have been purchased ensuring the optimal dose of prophylactic antibiotics can be administered

Alert stickers have been introduced highlighting the date of skin staple removal

Pre-warming patients before surgery and timely checking of their temperature after surgery

All of these changes have led to reductions in surgical site infections and at the Cumberland Infirmary there have been no hip and knee infections in the last nine months, and only one surgical site infection for the last quarter (July to September) at both hospital sites.

Julie said: “There has been a huge effort from everyone here to reduce the numbers of infections. The team have worked incredibly hard and the results show their hard work is really paying off.”

“It’s amazing how making some, seemingly small, changes can reduce the amount of infections for our patients.

“It doesn’t just stop once they are discharged as we have an orthopaedic helpline for hip and knee replacement or hip fracture patients to call if they have any concerns regarding their wound. There is also a DVD we have produced to help patients care for themselves once they get home.”

Sandra added: “We are usually able to troubleshoot any problems on the phone but we can ask a patient to come into clinic if we think they need to be seen in person. It’s about keeping those lines of communication open for patients once they are recovering at home.”