Clinical news digest: Don’t miss last month’s top stories


Liver disease ‘picked up quicker’ by nurse-led tests in GP surgeries


Simple tests by nurses in GP surgeries could potentially double the diagnosis rate of liver disease where patients are not displaying any symptoms, according to a UK study.

The researchers, from the University of Southampton, highlighted that the disease progressed silently, with few symptoms appearing before serious cirrhosis developed.

“The incorporation of a liver health nurse into GP practices was simple to arrange”

Magdy El-Gohary

Writing in the journal PLOS ONE, they noted the limitations of primary care in the area at present but highlighted the potential it had to find more cases earlier.

They trialed whether setting up nurse-led liver clinics using additional non-invasive testing – with a portable FibroScan 402 ultrasound device – would increase the number of diagnoses of liver disease compared to usual care.

They allocated 10 GP practices to either usual care or where patients were tested by specialist liver nurse.

Of the 910 participants seen in the nurse-led clinic, nearly half were found to have some form of liver disease. Of these, 44 had probable cirrhosis, 141 had progressive fibrosis and 220 had liver warnings. Overall, the nurse-led clinic diagnosed twice as many cases as the care as usual clinics.

Lead Author Dr Magdy El-Gohary said: “Incorporating a liver nurse within primary care was simple to arrange and yielded a much higher number of new diagnoses of liver disease compared to usual care.

”The next step is to roll this service on a larger scale so that we can show whether early diagnosis is able to prevent the liver disease developing to the stage where an emergency admission to hospital is required.”

Treating age-related hearing loss may ‘head off’ depression

mental health Elderly man with a walking stick looking outside

mental health Elderly man with a walking stick looking outside

Older patients with age-related hearing loss have more symptoms of depression, according to US researchers. Their findings suggest the treatment of hearing loss, which is often under-recognised and undertreated among the elderly, could be one way to head off depression, they said.

Mindfulness training could boost weight loss programmes efficacy



Mindfulness training may improve the effectiveness of intensive weight management programmes, suggesting it could be a successful strategy to prevent and manage obesity. Patients who did the training as part of an intensive course lost more weight in six months than other participants. The study involved the University of Warwick and University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust.

Exercise as ‘effective as drugs’ to lower high blood pressure

electronic blood pressure measurement assessment

electronic blood pressure measurement assessment

Exercise may be as effective as prescribed drugs for hypertension, according to what is thought to be the first study of its kind. UK researchers analysed data from 300 trials, involving 39,742 people, looked at the impact of drugs and structured exercise on lowering systolic blood pressure.

Challenging community nurse beliefs ‘improves infection control’

District community nurse home visit carer

District community nurse home visit carer

Source: Samuel Ivin

Community nurse beliefs about infection prevention influence whether they comply with prevention protocols more than their actual knowledge, according to a US study. Researchers suggested altering staff perceptions about infection risk was a promising strategy for improving compliance with procedures. They surveyed 359 home healthcare nurses.

Nurse ‘kindness’ aids patients after ‘emotional whiplash’ of MI

Mental Health Anxiety

Mental Health Anxiety

Cardiac rehabilitation by nurses plays a huge role in helping patients find their way back to wellbeing in the wake of a myocardial infarction, suggests a University of Portsmouth study. Researchers said it demonstrates the value of using “kindness and warmth” to support patients’ emotional wellbeing.

Being short may be mortality risk factor in critically ill patients

Discharge after being in critical care is the start of a long recovery process for patients

Discharge after being in critical care is the start of a long recovery process for patients

Shorter critical care patients have a higher mortality risk than others being treated in intensive care settings, according to UK researchers. A study of more than 400,000 critically ill adults, published in Intensive Care Medicine, shows being shorter is associated with increased mortality in hospital.

Alert issued on risk from poor placement of pulse oximeter probes


Pulse oximeter

Source: ING

Pulse oximeter sensor

A safety alert has been issued on the inappropriate placement of pulse oximeter probes in England. NHS Improvement warned that readings could be highly inaccurate when probes meant for the ear and finger were mixed up or when devices were used to measure the wrong patient age group.

Too few specialist dementia nurses speak about death

Case management allows people requiring care to continue living in their own home

Case management allows people requiring care to continue living in their own home

Nurses must be instilled with greater confidence to speak about the terminal nature of dementia, researchers have warned after a study shows too many are avoiding the subject. Their research, published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, found three out of five specialists from memory services did not routinely tell family carers that dementia was a fatal condition.

Specialist nurses help halve hospital pneumonia deaths


Promising fall in hospital deaths from pneumonia

Source: James Heilman

CT showing right-sided pneumonia

A specialist nurse-led service has helped halve hospital deaths from community acquired pneumonia and could save thousands of lives each year if replicated across the NHS, say those behind the Specialist Pneumonia Intervention Nurse service at University Hospitals Leicester NHS Trust.

Hospital opens new retro game space for teen patients

sonic room

sonic room

Sonic the Hedgehog

A new chill-out space for teenage patients will “dramatically improve their experience,” according to Vanessa Sloane, director of nursing at West Middlesex University Hospital. It now has a dedicated space for teens to enjoy during their stay, thanks to gaming company SEGA.

Hospice wins award for innovation in pressure ulcer prevention

hospice uk award

hospice uk award

Lesley Hollings, nurse manager at the Marie Curie Hospice Newcastle (third from left)

A hospice has received an Innovation in Care Award from Hospice UK for its pioneering use of technology to prevent pressure ulcers. Nursing staff at Marie Curie Hospice, Newcastle, reduced ulcer incidence by almost half using a device called the SEM (sub-epidermal moisture) scanner.