Article Abstract

Relevance of a specialised nurse in thoracic surgery

Authors: Jenny Mitchell


This review of the development of a specialist nursing service within a thoracic surgery centre looks at the implementation of a specialist nursing role. An analysis of the needs of the service allowed identification of areas where specialist nursing input could have a positive impact on the patient pathway: (I) a nurse-led clinic for review of patients who require early review after discharge, in particular those discharged home with chest drains, was developed; (II) improvements to the patient pathway such as day of surgery admission were introduced along with a reduction in the number of patients who require admission to intensive care after surgery; (III) the specialist nurse leads on the introduction of new technology such as electronic chest drains. The specialist nurse works in the follow-up clinic, seeing patients autonomously, with a particular emphasis on patients under long-term follow-up after thoracic surgery. A telephone clinic has been introduced for patients on long-term CT follow-up. These are well received by patients; (IV) specialist nurses also work on in-patient wards, providing specialist input to the patient pathway, and can also take on work traditionally undertaken by junior medical staff. To be successful the specialist nursing role needs to be supported by the multidisciplinary team (MDT). These roles are developed to meet the needs of each unit and can have a very positive impact on the patient pathway.