Development and evaluation of an intravascular link nurse network to sustain improvements in practice
Link nurses have been used to support many areas of specialist nursing practice since the 1980s. They add value as they provide a practical and timely way of sharing information and knowledge and raising awareness with the wider multidisciplinary team. One strategy to improve standards and sustain improvements in the care of vascular access devices was to develop an intravascular link nurse network: ‘Finding the missing link’. The link nurses are supported to attend quarterly masterclasses underpinned by the current evidence base. The masterclasses provide forums and workshops for learning, sharing initiatives, processes, progress and feedback. Results from the 2018/2019 sessions evaluation showed that 80% of the link nurses scored the workshops as excellent, 14% good, less than 1% fair and poor, and 4% did not provide an answer. Overall, 87% of link nurses were extremely likely to recommend the programme, 13% were likely to recommend it, and 93% found it helpful in their personal and professional growth. The network with supporting masterclasses has proven to be an effective strategy within the Trust.
Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) are the most frequently occurring, yet often preventable, threat to patient safety and a significant cause of morbidity and mortality. Millions of hospitalised patients are affected by HAIs each year (World Health Organization (WHO), 2016), but with the application of optimal infection prevention and control (IPC) measures and standardised practice, products and processes, it is possible to reduce the numbers. One of the main determinants of HAIs is the inappropriate use and suboptimal care of vascular access devices (VADs). Although these devices are essential for delivering therapeutic treatment, they are not without risk of complications, including bloodstream infection. To help reduce these risks, clinical staff must be competent in all aspects of their insertion, use and management, including the application of optimal standards of care, the recognition of complications and timely action to correct and prevent them. To achieve this, uniformity in standards and practice is vital.
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