Notre Dame nurse develops tool to improve patient care


Notre Dame News Story
Notre Dame student Marissa Pikkat with an example of the sepsis alert card she created.

Sepsis was the cause of more than 25,000 deaths in Australia in 2010 and the infection of the bloodstream affects between five and 10 per cent of all hospital patients. Armed with these statistics and undertaking a clinical placement at Campbelltown Hospital, The University of Notre Dame Australia’s Nursing graduand, Marissa Pikkat, developed a tool to speed up the crucial sepsis early detection process.

With an understanding of the likelihood that she would be caring for patients with sepsis, Ms Pikkat developed a sepsis reference card, which summarised the critical health indicators for correctly and quickly diagnosing sepsis and could be pinned to her identification tag for quick reference. Little did she know her invention would soon become a permanent fixture on the identification tags of other nurses in Campbelltown Hospital.

"I thought it would be handy to make myself a reference card, so I could recognise a patient with sepsis and act upon it," Ms Pikkat said.

"I mentioned this to the Clinical Nurse Consultant, Ron Wilson, and he suggested I make them for the whole department. I was then invited to share my idea at a state-wide sepsis teleconference, led by the Clinical Excellence Commission."

Maureen Edgtton-Winn, Project Officer for the Clinical Excellence Commission Sepsis Project Team said she and her colleagues were impressed by Ms Pikkat’s drive and passion to improve patient care.

"The Clinical Excellence Commission Sepsis Project Team would like to acknowledge Marissa’s initiative, enthusiasm and commitment for sharing her concept of sepsis alert cards," Ms Edgtton-Winn said.

"We would like to commend her consideration of patient safety and for addressing this in such a simple and effective manner.

Ron Wilson, Clinical Nurse Consultant, Emergency Department, Campbelltown and Camden Hospitals, said Ms Pikkat showed initiative by examining the sepsis care path and posters displayed at the hospital, then presenting that information in an accessible manner.

"Marissa has been one of our most enthusiastic students, willing to take on a challenge and deliver education to our Emergency Department staff," Mr Wilson said.

"It is a pleasure to see a student flourish the way Marissa has."

Following her graduation at the end of the month, Ms Pikkat will begin a new graduate position at Campbelltown Hospital and later, hopes to work in the hospital’s Emergency Department.

"Campbelltown Emergency Department gives nurses who are willing to go that extra mile the opportunity to take on challenges," Ms Pikkat said.

"They really value nurses who want to make a difference to patient care and patient safety. Look what I have achieved as a student, imagine what I could do after my new graduate year!"

Ms Pikkat said she would not have had the confidence to effect change in the health system without the support and encouragement of the staff at Notre Dame.

"I believed it was the personalised education I received at Notre Dame that helped me make the decision to take on this challenge," Ms Pikkat said.

"The course equipped me with a different way of thinking and the education I have received over the past three years has been invaluable. I would like to thank the School of Nursing staff for all they have taught me."

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