'This is just the start' - the heart nurses breaking down professional boundaries | News from St Bartholomew's

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'This is just the start' - the heart nurses breaking down professional boundaries

Nurses in the cath lab learn how to perform radial access

A medical procedure, once the preserve of experienced doctors, in which a tube is inserted through the wrist and onto the heart, has been performed by nurses at St Bartholomew’s Hospital.

Radial access, so-called after the radial artery, uses the wrist as an entry point for a catheter which is then threaded through the body’s network of blood vessels.

An alternative to femoral access, which punctures the thigh, it is the start of the process to diagnose and treat a number of conditions like clogged arteries and irregular heartbeats.

In most cases, radial access causes less discomfort than femoral access and means patients can get out of bed and walk around much sooner after their procedure.

Clinicians at Barts Heart Centre at St Bartholomew’s Hospital perform hundreds of radial access punctures each month as part of treatments such as an angioplasty.

Sara and Kev at work in the cath labTraditionally, it was only ever done by a specialist heart doctor, who would also lead the rest of the case.

Applications to the radial access programme opened in the hospital’s catheterisation labs last year.

Two band 6 nurses were chosen, and, after hours of training and simulation, have recently performed their first procedures.

Sara, a junior sister who has completed the course (pictured left with colleague Kevin), said: "It’s a dream come true.

"As a nurse, you see many punctures being performed each week, but I couldn't imagine being the one to do it.

"Doing it for the first time was overwhelming. I feel so fortunate to advance my practice in this way and I hope that many more of my colleagues will follow."

Barts Heart Centre is one of the first units in the UK to offer this training to its nursing staff.

We want colleagues to feel motivated and empowered

Senior sister Paola Ferraro said it was the logical next step for nurses who already have a close relationship with each cath lab patient.

It also shows our commitment to professional development.

She said: "We want our colleagues to feel motivated and empowered and to continue their career with us.

"There are so many possibilities now for nursing. We hope this is just the start."

After a successful pilot, they hope to offer the training to more nursing staff in the future.

The team are also exploring how the project has increased efficiencies in the department by freeing up medical time.

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  1. Etelvina Ceballos Monday, 17 April 2023 at 11:09 AM

    Good morning, my name is Etelvina Ceballos. I have a degree in nursing with a specialization in critical care and cardiovascular care. I have been working for 34 years in the cardiac catheterization lab at the Ascardio Cardiovascular Center, Venezuela. It seems to me an excellent initiative, the nurses who work in the cardiac catheterization labs have the skills and abilities to perform this type of procedure, and many more if a training is carried out like the one you describe, how long does this training last? And how do you select the staff that will receive it? We are the first center in the country to perform radial catheterization. It is the one with the highest volume of patients. 99% of the cases of ischemic heart disease are done by radial catheterization. We train doctors from all over the country in this technique. Greetings from Venezuela and thanks for empowering nursing

  2. Etelvina Ceballos Monday, 17 April 2023 at 11:13 AM

    Greetings from Venezuela and thanks for empowering nursing

  3. Henry Purcell Monday, 17 April 2023 at 03:18 PM

    Exciting news. Are the nursing colleagues doing full diagnostic angiography or PCI?

  4. Tim Spencer Tuesday, 18 April 2023 at 03:03 AM

    I was been doing radial access in Australia in the early-mid 2000’s for radial cannulation and teaching it widely across the USA for the last decade.
    Having published on arterial practices and also the expanding scope of practices for nurses, I’m interested to hear if this is just to place the arterial catheter/sheath to be used for interventional procedures or if these nurses are performing additional invasive procedures.
    I think this is a great step forward in collaborative healthcare which in turn improves efficiencies, care and patient outcomes.

  5. Dr Rafiu Oladosu Waheed Tuesday, 18 April 2023 at 11:30 AM

    It's a milestone and good development, it will make doctors work less stressful.

  6. Paola Ferraro Monday, 24 April 2023 at 10:50 AM

    Thank you all for your encouraging messages! It is exciting and reassuring to know we are collectively moving towards the same direction. I have set up and am leading the programme at Barts. Please feel free to contact me via email paola.ferraro@nhs.net if you have any questions or would like some more detailed information.
    Our project is radial sheath insertion (not angio), however there is scope in the future to llok at expanding training forward for these highly skilled nurses.

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