I have worked as a registered nurse for 40 years, nearly all of which has been spent in Orthopedics. Over this time I have completed quarterly VTE audits and root cause analysis for patients who developed VTE. This data was then presented as part of the Spire VTE committee; I was really interested in these findings as there was something common to all the patients who developed VTE-they all appeared to be dehydrated pre-op.
Naturally this led us to a piece of work as a hospital to explore what we could do to ensure patients were hydrated pre-op. As a team we looked at our patient information and changed how patients were informed about the importance of staying hydrated as per guidelines.
This led in 2014 to the hospital being asked to apply for VTE exemplar status. It took over a year, but after gathering all the evidence required, I submitted the application and Spire Southampton Hospital was awarded VTE exemplar status. The work did not stop once the award was given. Dehydration continues to be an issue. But with the help of the bookings team, we decided to text message all patients having surgery the evening before admission to remind them to have a glass of water before leaving home. Audits showed that hydration times had improved for patients. We continue to audit these quarterly and present findings to colleagues for shared learnings.
Since then I have been asked to speak at organisation-wide meetings about VTE prevention, promoting the idea that all Spire Hospitals should apply for exemplar status. We have developed the VTE strategic working party, which I lead, to assist and support other hospitals. I am an active member of the VTE NNMN. These meetings are informative and give me the opportunity to network with other sites.
Our main aim is that all patients attending a Spire Hospital will get the same information regarding VTE, that they will have pre-operation fluids up to two hours before their operation, and that all staff are trained to the same level and are competent in VTE assessment.
One of my main learnings has been how important it is for all clinical staff involved in patient contact to have had VTE training and competencies. To help achieve this, I arranged for product representatives to come to the hospital to do training with all staff. Anti-embolic stockings and foot pumps reps were invited to Southampton to complete training for all our teams. We use awareness weeks, including Thrombosis week, internal staff training, study days and our Southampton Facebook pages to promote the importance of VTE among our patients and our colleagues.