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Durham nurses launch innovative hospital dressing

An innovative wound dressing which scooped second place in a regional competition is to be showcased on wards at County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust and will be available to other NHS Trusts across the county.

The novel cannula dressing is the idea of Barbara Jameson and Pat Hogg, ITU nurses at University Hospital of North Durham. In 2008, the design picked up second prize in the regional 'Bright Ideas in Health Awards' and with support from NHS Innovations North was developed into a product and licensed to GMED UK.

Pat Hogg ITU Nurse at University Hospital of North Durham said: "It has been a long process to get to this stage but it is very rewarding to see now. We're thrilled to bits to actually see the product and know that it will be available to different hospitals across the country. We would like to thank Dr Dominic Errington, a consultant anaesthetist at the Trust, NHS Innovations North and GMED UK for all their support and help in getting us to this stage." 

The dressing has been designed for use with arterial cannulae. Critically ill patients require constant monitoring so that changes in their condition can be rapidly recognised and early treatment administered. An important tool routinely used in the critical care setting is arterial blood pressure monitoring. This is done by inserting a cannula into an artery, which is attached to a monitor and continuously records the blood pressure and allows for blood samples to be taken without the use of needles.

However, as an invasive device it has the potential to cause many serious complications if not managed correctly. Accidental injection of medicines into the arterial lines can be disastrous therefore it needs to be easily identifiable from other lines. Arterial line dressings need to be secure to prevent accidental removal as profuse bleeding can happen if this occurs. The insertion point of the cannula needs to be visible to allow staff to monitor for signs of infection.

The innovative dressing designed by Barbara and Pat solves these potential problems reducing clinical risk to patients.

Barbara Jameson, Senior Sister in ITU at University Hospital of North Durham explained: "We had both been through the process of achieving a charter mark for the intensive care service when we worked at Shotley Bridge Hospital and this really taught us to look at our practice under a microscope, to think about things differently and question things rather than just accepting that was the way something was done.
"That's what really led us to start looking at a different, more effective way of dressing a cannula. Previously the dressing could be just a plain piece of elastic dressing and it was difficult to see the insertion point, it wasn't as tightly secure to the skin as it could be and there was no way of adding insertion date details. So we really wanted to design something that was fit for purpose and would improve the potential safety issues with the existing way of doing things.

"The new dressing is clearly marked in red as an arterial line so it easily identifiable from other lines. It has a higher strength adhesive and large contact area in order to reduce the chance of the line being accidently pulled out. There is space for the date of insertion to be written clearly on the dressing and there is a window in the dressing to allow staff to visibly assess the insertion site of the line for early signs of infection. We are delighted with the way the dressing as been developed and the support we have received from Anna Taylor at NHS Innovations North and Ged McGonnell at GMED UK."

Diane Murphy, Acting Director of Nursing for County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust said: "The Trust is extremely proud to recognise the innovative work of two of our employees coming to fruition. This has been a long process for them and has required a lot of commitment and hard work, much of which they have done in their own time. This is a reflection of the dedicated and talented workforce we have in this Trust. It also highlights the importance of schemes such as the 'Bright Ideas in Health Awards' which encourage health staff to come forward and provide them with the support and information to turn an idea into a real product."

Pat added: "The patient aspect of our jobs is what keep you coming back every day and improving patient safety was really what drove us on to develop this idea. Once we started looking at the dressing, it led us to think about the bigger picture and the whole packages of care around arterial lines so we have gone on to develop a series of other tools and products as well with the support and guidance of Dr Errington. We are extremely proud to see the dressing now being used in our own unit and knowing it could be used in other hospitals across the country."

Ged McGonnell, Managing Director of GMED UK said: "As a company we strive to foster relationships with NHS partners and develop products which fill a gap in healthcare services. Working with clinicians and medical staff such as Pat and Barbara is a rewarding process as they share the same drive and enthusiasm for solving problems as we do at GMED. We are delighted to now be in a position to launch the new dressing and hope to see it used in many hospital wards in the future."

Published: 2 March 2012

'I would like to thank all the staff for my treatment and their professionalism.'

Patient, Cardiology Department, Bishop Auckland Hospital