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Research talent wins national Innovation in Nursing award

Professor Claire Rickard, from Griffiths School of Nursing and Midwifery, has won the Innovation in Nursing category of the HESTA Australian Nursing Awards.

Professor Rickard won top honours for her research to cut patient blood loss during testing procedures, reducing the risk of anaemia and the need for blood transfusions among already ill patients. The award was announced last night at a gala dinner at Melbournes Crown Entertainment complex.

Nurses routinely take blood samples for pathology tests from hospital patients intravenous drips to reduce needle punctures. The first blood drawn must be discarded because it may be contaminated or provide a false reading.

In my nursing practice in many different hospitals and wards I saw there was a huge variety of beliefs and practices about this and I suspected patients were losing a lot of blood unnecessarily, she said.

Professor Rickard, acting director of the Research Centre for Clinical and Community Practice Innovation, said patients who need multiple blood tests, like intensive care patients, can lose so much blood they become anaemic.

Previous attempts had been made to calculate the optimum amount of discarded blood, but most were only applicable to specific equipment used by individual hospitals. Claire developed a formula that works across all equipment, and all medical institutions.

She will use the $10,000 prize money to extend her research. She hopes to have her work published in a nursing journal, which could lead to international application of her work.

Especially at a time of illness, the blood is vital and we should not waste a drop, she said.

This new process has led to changes in our practice: much lower blood volumes are being discarded and patients get the best of both worlds. They still get the accurate blood results which are necessary for their treatment, but they also avoid unnecessary anaemia and blood transfusion.

Professor Rickard was selected from a strong field of six national finalists whose innovations included a rock CD promoting sexual health, the use of professional actors to train nurses to cope with patient grief and anxiety and the introduction of massage therapy for surgery patients.

HESTA CEO Anne-Marie Corboy said the industry super fund was proud to support such an outstanding awards program.

She congratulated the winners in the three categories: Nurse of the Year (WAs Samantha Gibson), Innovation in Nursing (Queenslands Claire Rickard) and Graduate Nurse of the Year (Victorian Kelly Leiper).

Every Australian has been touched, in some way, by the dedication and professionalism of nurses, Ms Corboy said.

The HESTA Australian Nursing Awards are a chance to acknowledge three stars of the profession, and to say thank you to all those women and men in nursing whose care transforms our lives.


Contact: Claire Rickard
Research Australia

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