An innovative project launched by a clinical nurse specialist has “transformed” the way patients receive cancer treatment and has been recognised on a global level.
Clinical interventions lead nurse Carol McCormick, from the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS Foundation Trust, conducted a pilot 10 years ago which changed the way cancer patients receive intravenous treatment.
“Hopefully by presenting our work internationally, even more patients and nurses will benefit”
People who receive chemotherapy or immunotherapy treatment for cancer often need repeat blood tests or medication straight into their blood stream for long periods at a time. This could go on for several months or years depending on their diagnosis and treatment needs.
This is done traditionally via a peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) line that is placed into one of the veins within the upper arm.
Ms McCormick said that while traditional devices such as these were “effective”, when a patient carries out day-to-day activities they can easily come out or become insecure, meaning a new line has to be fitted.
This uses nursing time, potentially delays treatment and can cause increased risk of infection and discomfort, she noted.
Consequently, in 2012, she piloted a new device at the trust in Liverpool that sits underneath the skin when the PICC line is secured.
The device, Ms McCormick said, goes directly into the dermis – the middle layer of skin – whilst also acting as “an anchor under the skin”.
The results found the line was more secure, improved patient experience and potentially reduced the risk of infections and the need for replacement PICCs.
Ms McCormick added: “For our patients who are dealing with a cancer diagnosis, multiple treatments, blood tests, side effects and other life events, removing something as seemingly simple as a need for a replacement catheter, really improved their experience, as well as reducing nurse’s time spent inserting the replacements and potential cost savings on the devices themselves.”
The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre was the first organisation to start using the new under-the-skin devices for all patients and said it “transformed” the way people receive intravenous cancer treatments.
It found that by training nurses to insert the devices, they were “saving nurse time, seeing fewer delays in treatment and ultimately and importantly, hopefully improving patient experience and comfort at the same time”, Ms McCormick said.
She added: “I’m really pleased that the devices have now been nationally approved and other organisations are using them too.
“I think it’s really important that as professionals we continually look at what we could do differently and staying up to date on new technologies to make treatment as seamless and as positive for people needing our care as possible.”
Ms McCormick had her innovation highlighted at an international conference – the World Congress on Vascular Access – which took place in Athens on 16-18 October.
She said: “Hopefully by presenting our work internationally, even more patients and nurses will benefit.”