Australian Researcher Honoured

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. 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. 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 prize money to extend her research. “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.” Rickard was selected from a strong field of six national finalists.; Source: Research Australia