Superbugs beware!

Nurse Ruth Dando in the corridor at Queen's Hospital

Nurse Ruth Dando in the corridor at Queen's Hospital

We’re doing our bit to tackle the global threat from antimicrobial resistance – when bacteria becomes drug resistant, reducing the efficiency of the medicines we take – by reintroducing the practice of flushing our intravenous lines (IV).

This will not only help fight drug resistance; flushing, when a saline solution is rinsed through the IV line, forces any remaining medicine into the vein, ensuring our patients receive the full dose of antibiotics, helping them to recover quicker.

Ruth Dando (pictured above), our head of nursing for theatres, critical care and anaesthetics, led the roll-out to reintroduce the practice across our wards and departments after speaking to a colleague at a healthcare company who explained how antibiotic underdosing was a key risk of drug resistance, and delayed recovery from infections.

Ruth, a nurse for 40 years, explained:

Ensuring we give patients a full dose every time means we can reduce the resistance risk and get patients better and home to their families quicker.

We didn’t have infusion pumps when I started out, and giving IV lines a flush after every dose was normal practice. Pumps, which regulate medicine flow, are safer for patients, but the advent of them meant the ability to flush the line was lost. This is remedied by using the correct administration set which has the access to allow a flush to be delivered, a simple process which doesn’t require any new skills.

We’re the first Trust in London to adopt this practice, which, as well as providing better care to our patients, is also reducing waste and environmental risks.

Ruth added:

Without flushing, you throw away around 16% of the drugs, which are left in the IV line. This leads to underdosing our patients of antibiotics and, if it is not discarded properly, such as if fluid is put down the sink, it can enter the local water system and cause pharmaceutical pollution.

It will also help us save money by reducing drug wastage and using less IV lines as once flushed, they are ready to be used again.

Ensuring full doses are delivered also aids a quicker move from intravenous to oral medication, which has a big implication on nursing time, as well as being more pleasant for patients.

Following the roll-out across our hospitals, which took place over the last year, Ruth has been asked to share her experience and expertise with other trusts. She was also a speaker at the Infection Prevention Control Conference in Birmingham in April. (below, Ruth is pictured speaking at the event.)

Nurse Ruth Dando speaking at a conference


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