A scheme to boost the safety of heart patients following surgery has been recognised with a national award.
Intensive care nurses at St Bartholomew’s Hospital were named cardiac team of the year by the Society of Cardiothoracic Surgery after they developed a system to improve checks on cardiac patients recovering from an operation.
Irregular heart rhythms are a major risk following surgery.
Electrical devices such as pacemakers are used to send electrical pulses to the heart to keep it beating regularly.
Frequent checks are important to show that the pacemaker is working properly.
They also boost planning for future surgery cases by identifying which patients may be moved out of intensive care, helping us see more patients sooner.
The team found that these checks were only being recorded around 10% of the time due to a lack of awareness and confidence to perform the task.
A team of ‘pacing champions’ led by senior sister Rosalie Magboo used quality improvement methodology to develop a new process that was easy for all staff to follow.
It meant working closely with other professional groups including anaesthetists, cardiologists, cardiothoracic surgeons and electrophysiologists.
It has been a huge success with compliance rates hitting 100% and staff, particularly at more junior levels, feeling empowered to perform the checks themselves.
Awareness has also increased with nurses and junior doctors able to discuss pacing issues openly and act on problems quickly.
It is the first nurse-led protocol of its kind in the country and can be easily rolled-out to other NHS hospitals following a simple training session.
Rosalie said: “this award motivates us to do even more for patient safety and experience.”