On International Nurses Day, we celebrate our nurses’ commitment and dedication to providing high-quality care to patients in need.
St Vincent’s Clinic Foundation recognises the importance of patient-focused multidisciplinary research and believes nurses bring a unique perspective and expertise to understanding the complex health issues facing individuals and communities. They play a critical role in leading innovative and collaborative research projects that have the potential to improve patient outcomes.
Professor Sandy Middleton has been the recipient of several multidisciplinary grants. Her landmark Quality in Acute Stroke Care Cluster Randomised Trial into nursing practices for acute stroke care has created a worldwide gold standard for increasing survival and reducing disability.
Co-funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council and a St Vincent’s Clinic Foundation multidisciplinary grant, the project investigated the impact of nurse-initiated acute stroke care. Nurses were required to monitor patients’ temperature and treat fever quickly, test their blood glucose levels and treat with insulin where appropriate, and ensure patients were safe to swallow before being given food and drink. Patients who were cared for in stroke units that had supported the implementation of this protocol were 16% more likely to survive and remain independent, an effect that further research showed to be sustained over four years.
The project’s recommendations have since been rolled out in hospitals across NSW and implemented in 64 hospitals in 17 countries in Europe. Additionally, recommendations for the management of fever, hyperglycaemia and swallowing have been included in Australian and New Zealand Clinical Guidelines for Stroke Management, which Professor Middleton refers to as “the gold standard” for demonstrating policy and practice change arising from research.
“We had outstanding results that showed that nursing care could impact the hard endpoints of death and dependency, outcomes not often measured in nursing research. We usually measure reduced complications or adherence to evidence-based care practices or patient satisfaction, so to have an impact on death and dependency arising from good nursing care was amazing and led to the study being fast-tracked for publication in The Lancet.”