Respiratory Rotation Tick!!

This post has taken me so many attempts to write, I am not sure if it is because the last couple of weeks have been a bit relentless mainly with me flapping thinking “Oh God this week I am on call”. It doesn’t matter how much prep you do or how much everyone tells you that you’ll be fine you still don’t feel ready. Being quite a reflective person I like to analyse every possible option before doing something (which I think enhances my anxiety of on call thinking will I ever make a decision!), however, I am also a born pragmatist which means once I know what I am doing I get things done and with the fab support I have had from my team during supervision sessions and clinical work I now feel I could reason through my options and make a sound clinical judgement! So this post is going to look back on some of the success’s and challenges I have faced on this rotation. I am now on-call competent and I have just completed my first on call (pheeewww) so I will try to explain the things which were going through my head and how I came out the other side!!

So Firstly the competencies, to be competent on call there are certain skills which need to be reviewed to ensure safe practice is maintained. These include:

  • Understanding of Arterial Blood Gases.
  • Interpretation of Auscultation
  • Interpretation of Chest Xray’s
  • Understanding of Oxygen Therapy
  • Ability to use cough assist and clearway
  • Ability to use Intermittent Positive Pressure Breathing.
  • V/Q matching and positioning
  • Humidification
  • Use of Manual Hyperinflation
  • Suctioning
  • Assessing an acutely ill patient
  • Tracheostomy care
  • Time on ITU/Paeds/Surgery/HDU/Medical Wards

I have to say I was glad to see the back of them, doing more work after work meant sometimes feeling mentally and physically exhausted but I had great support from my supervisor Emily Stranney and team throughout which made things a hell of a lot easier. I am not going to go into each competency as I will be here all night but these are some of the things that would be expected of you at Derby.

I think one of the best ways for me to sum up my experiences is to give you my Top 10 tips on how to survive your respiratory rotation. For me I was fortunate to have experience on ITU on placement and when I worked in Birmingham but I can understand how daunting it can be if you were going in blind. For example on my first day of my the rotation I was quite happily being showed around to familiarise myself  when one of the nurses called us over to say a patient needed urgent chest physio… So off we went straight into a emergency situation good job I had already had experience in suctioning and my supervisor was taking control…way to break me in gently or throw me into the deep end I am not quite sure :-). So my tips based on my experience on medical respiratory wards and I hope some of them may be useful.

1. Take a 24 hour approach to your patients. For patients with long term respiratory conditions they may physically be able to complete the tasks separately but when you put everything together washing and dressing themselves, making breakfast, walking to the shop even they may be exhausted for the rest of the day or even the next. This is where you may need to liase with occupational therapists, oxygen nurse, rehab coordinators or pulmonary rehab to assist with formulating a seamless discharge for your patients.

2. If they need oxygen therapy have you considered it as a tripping hazard? Many patients will be elderly and you don’t want a long line of oxygen tubing to be another reason for another admission to hospital. So maybe trial a long lead of oxygen as part of your treatment session to carry out a risk assessment?

3. You sometimes need to wait a bit longer before you pick up a physio referral. For example sometimes some of the COPD patients come in with type 2 respiratory failure and they need  NIV to rectify blood gases before you start pushing their exercise tolerance to the limit. (This may not always be the case speak to the nurses are they productive of sputum or not?)

4. If opportunity allows opt to do some joint treatment sessions with more senior physiotherapists and get them to compare what you are auscultating etc to see if your treatment plans match up. Different physiotherapists work in different ways so it is good to work with a variety to aid your own clinical reasoning.

5. Get into the habit of checking patients Chest Xray’s, if a recent one has been taken to help guide your treatment. Also the more practice you get the easier they will become to interpret… as no one wants to be scratching their head at 3am in the morning.

6. Know your indications and contraindications for treatment this will help formulate your treatment plan. I would advise to carry around a notebook with these in because if your mind goes blank you have something to back you up. My on call book has useful phone numbers, door codes, equipment locations, indications and contraindications for treatment, typical patients for each treatment and some of the useful values you may need as part of an assessment.

7. Break each respiratory patient down simply. What is the main problem? Sputum retention? Reduced Lung Volume? or Increased work of breathing? What can you change or help with and this will formulate your treatment options.

8. As always don’t be afraid to ask questions or your seniors or Doctors question their clinical reasoning so you are understand why you are doing something. You will be amazed at how many times as a physiotherapist you are the first one to notice that a patients target SpO2 need adjusting.

9. Like with anything in physiotherapy if something is outside of your scope of practice ask for help. For example I have been faced with the situation where a patient has aspirated on their vomit and I asked for my senior to treat the patient with me because I had never dine nasal suction before. ( You are not seen as incompetent you are seen as safe)!

10.Be aware of the neuro-muscular patients, they have the potential to go off spectacularly due to poor lung volumes and cough effort. And just because you can’t hear anything doesn’t mean secretions aren’t lurking. The likelihood is that secretions can’t be heard due to poor lung volume creating turbulence.

Finally just relax… easier said than done I know, but, you are better to take a deep breath take your time and reason through what you are doing.

I hope some of these tips will be useful, I feel so much more confident with my respiratory skills post rotation and I would advise anyone to develop the skills as you never know when they may come in handy ( it will probably be me reviewing the odd respiratory patient when I move to T+O next :-S)

So those were my top 10 survival tips for your respiratory rotation. I will now go onto my first on call situation and some of the tips which brought me out the other side.

I can honestly say this day had been looming for a long time…. but I kept thinking oh it’s fine I’ve got ages yet (it won’t happen to me)! To oh wait I am on call tomorrow oh Cr*p!! The night before I definitely did not sleep at all waking up every hour thinking am I meant to be on call tonight? when I wasn’t. So the day finally arrived, I had arranged to stay with a colleague as we have to be at the hospital within  40 mins, so from Chesterfield I would be pushing it! I was lucky in someways to be completing my first on call during my time on respiratory as it meant I had the opportunity to talk things through with my supervisor and also suss out if there was any poorly people lurking about on the wards. Through the week there had been no call outs so I was testing my luck not to be called out but I guess I kind of wanted to be called in just to get the whole thing over and done with. So I settled into bed about 9pm… set my alarm for the morning, straightened out my uniform next to bed alongside my on call book and a pen. As I did the night before I wasn’t sleeping well looking at the clock every hour…. but by the time I got to 3AM I thought you know what maybe I have been saved and tonight is not the night so I drifted off to sleep.

04.30AM The phone rings!! ” Hello this is the switch board can we direct a call through to you”

Me: “Urghh urghh Yes hold on let me just find a pen”

“Hello its the registrar …. The patient has this, this, this and this can you come in for emergency physio”

Me: ” Hold on a second  can you just repeat that I have just woken up” So by this point I had found my little book and was able to take some details down. One thing I would say is make sure you take the time to slow the referrer down and clarify the patient in your head (Don’t forget to find out the patient’s name and location as you don’t want to be running round the hospital at night)

So I had got the details I needed, got dressed, got in my car and drove to hospital all the time thinking should I be doing this or this. By the time I had made it to the hospital I headed to the patient’s location took a deep breath went through the notes, looked at their Chest X-Ray, asked if they were for escalation for a higher level of care, checked blood results and then started to conduct my assessment. I went through logically my treatment options and formulated my treatment plan. As a first on call it wasn’t really a physio problem to solve but it allowed me to reason this through and at least I got called out and lived to tell the tale.

So my top tips for on call based on my limited experience:

1. Make sure you are competent! There is a reason we are set competencies and this is to make sure we are safe and clinically effective.  So take the time to put the work in so when it comes to being called out at 3am in the morning you are prepared.

2. Be organised! Have everything ready so that the only thing you have to do is get dressed and turn up at the hospital.

3. Don’t be afraid to challenge the referrer for the reason for the call out. Not all call out’s need a physio so you may be able to offer advice over the phone to rectify the problem.

4. Take your time read through the notes, check the patients observations, check blood results (INR and platelets especially), check recent X-Rays and breathe.

5. Familiarise  yourself with your environment, take the time to have a walk around the areas you don’t normally work in. Or if it is area you haven’t had much experience in ring the ward physio’s in the morning and see if they have any patients you might want to treat before you are on call to get to know them.

Finally breathe, the best piece of advice I have been given on the run up to my on call is to look at it as you are only offering an opinion. At the end of the day it is the consultant who has the final say on the patients care and sometimes as a physiotherapist you cannot do anything more and have to step away.

I hope this piece has reassured physio students and new grads that being on call isn’t as terrifying as you think and the hardest thing is just that initial thought of waiting to be called out!! But once you have done it you have a real sense of achievement  that you have been able to help someone in need and the fear disappears. I mean if I can come out the other side then anyone can!!

So my next rotation takes me to Trauma and Orthopaedics in a couple of weeks time. I have only ever done T+O outpatients so I am intrigued to learn more about it and see where it takes me. My next blog post will focus on the recent Physio Works locally event I attended in Nottingham for the CSP and I hope to share with you some of the keys themes of the day!

Thank you again for taking an interest. Any comments please feel free to leave one below or tweet me @LCphysio.

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This time last Year!

How crazy around this time last year I was starting to write my blog. Now a year qualified looking through my posts it is crazy to think how much I have achieved in that time. So this blog post is going to update people on my progress through rotations and will also touch on a recent course I have been on for Strength and Conditioning combined with Physiotherapy.

Currently I am working within the Specialist Medicine team at Derby, covering one of the acute respiratory wards and the High Dependency Unit. My first impression of starting my respiratory rotation was although respiratory physiotherapy isn’t my comfort zone, it was a skill I needed to develop. I naively thought “well at least I won’t have the same level of social sort out as elderly medicine….” (How wrong I was). You forget that elderly people may also have a respiratory condition and even if they are not elderly you may have to deal with breathlessness management, oxygen requirements and anxiety to prevent people being readmitted to hospital. Initially I found myself being very slow with my assessment an acute ward is very different from ITU. On ITU a lot of the patients did not necessarily have predisposing respiratory conditions (not all of them) or they were intubated so management was focused on chest clearance and early rehab. Whereas on an acute ward you are looking at how patients will manage at home with ADL’s, the need for long term oxygen therapy, occupational therapy involvement and  the need for social services involement. On the ward we work closely with the OT, one of the things we look at is equipment to help with energy conservation, as this can help to maintain a patients’ independence.

On the ward we have around 28 beds including a 4 bed High Dependency Unit. The high dependency unit has 1 nurse for 2 beds and is mainly for patients who are needing Acute NIV, Tracheotomies who need regular management, patients who have the ability to deteriorate who need escalation to ITU and patients who have reached there ceiling of care on HDU (so they are not for escalation to ITU if they deteriorate likely because their respiratory function is limited due to predisposing lung condition). The sort of patients I have been exposed to on HDU are Spinal cord injuries, Stroke, Neuro-muscular conditions such as GBS , acute exacerbation of COPD, vasculitis and severe pneumonia (So a range of conditions to get stuck into). In HDU all the patients have the ability to go off quickly so you have to keep your eye on the ball, however, it is worth noting that not all of the patients in HDU need physio. For example the patients dependent on NIV who do not have sputum retention normally just need time for their blood gases to normalise so we would hold off unless they need us for mobility Ax.

So objectives I have set myself on Respiratory:

1. To be able to carry out a Subjective and Objective Assessment on a:  i)Critically unwell patient ii)Ward Based patient iii) create a problem list and Rx plan.

2. To be confident using different Rx techniques and demonstrating clinical reasoning. i) Mechanical devices ii) Manual techniques iii) Suction iv) Advice and Education v) Postural Drainage.

3. To be confident in interpreting observations i) HDU charts ii) Auscultation iii) ABG’s

4. Prioritisation of a respiratory ward. i) HDU II) Ward Management iii) Discharge planning.

5. To be on call competent and safe

Through this rotation I will spend half of my time on the ward with HDU and half of my time on a general respiratory ward. To become on call competent through supervision sessions I am slowly working through my competencies. So far I have been fortunate for the experiences I have gained which will set me up for going on call.  However, I don’t think you can ever be prepared for the adrenaline kick of an on call situation. I think the best advice I have been given is always to go back to basics and question why someone has ended up in the situation they are in. What can we have an effect on? And what can’t we have an effect on? What is the main problem: Lung volume, Sputum or work of breathing or both? (This is how I would look at my patients but obviously everyone has different methods you would also complete a thorough respiratory assessment to reach your conclusion).

So slowly but surely my confidence with respiratory is slowly increasing and I am hoping to be ready for the September rota eeeek!! I will try to keep you updated with my progress.

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So very much away from respiratory physiotherapy. I recently attended a course: The Integration of Strength & Conditioning and Athletic Screening to the Management of the Sporting Client: Recreational to Elite Level. The course was run by Harborne Physio and was taken by Simon Noad (West Brom Physiotherapist) and Ray Jackman (S+C coach based on Uni of Birmingham). I wanted to attend this course because there is a known gap between physio and S+C. We should be working in partnership to help athletes or clients achieve their goals. So I wanted to gain a bit more knowledge of S+C and how this would fit into my practice. Just to say people may have differing opinions regarding this process this is just one example. How I have written this up may be a bit jumpy because I have jumped through different principles discussed on the course.

The course was fantastic and it is the first combined S+C/ Physio course in the UK. Simon and Ray were great teachers and explained the principles and practical elements very clearly. The course highlighted that we should be focusing on training athletes not specific “Footballers, rugby players or runners”. The process of S+C is to help develop an individual to perform at the best of their ability.Obviously you will reach a point where you need to be looking at sport specific requirements but we must create foundations first. Is the athlete fit to undertake a training regime without breaking down. There are many elements which must be incorporated into a training regime to account for this for example: Nutrition, Speed, Strength, Power, Recovery,RSA, Endurance, Injury prevention, Flexibility, Anaerobic, Research. If we just breakdown recovery we should be looking at: Sleep (10 hours for an athlete), Hydration, Nutrition, Foam rolling, Mobility work, compression, ?Ice Baths so all of the elements can be deconstructed to create a comprehensive Ax and Plan.

So back to athletic profiling things to consider?

1: When do we screen:Pre season, End of season, following significant injury, return to training or objective Ax. There is no right or wrong answer.

2. Where?: Where do you work, what are you trying to measure?

3. How?: Single station, multi-station, single practitioner or multiple, number of athletes.

After devising a plan we should be doing a medical screen, if you do not have  medical support. This may highlight risks such as Cardiac problems which may need to be screened. http://www.c-r-y.org.uk/ . If in doubt refer to a Doctor or advise client to seek GP advice. (No your scope of practice).

The Screen

Habits/ Daily activities- may lead to motor control restrictions. This links to Poor training regimes which may cause soft tissue restrictions and finally previous injuries which may lead to movement dysfunctions linking back to habits.

How we are born to squat

Some of the things we may include in a initial screen are a Squat, Lunge, Single leg dip, box drop, forward hop and a combination. We should be marking these against normal movement to pre-empt restrictions and weakness. The testing must be standardised and you don’t have to include all of the movements to get what you want (look at the specifics of the sport).

Then we would move onto NMSK assessment some of the tings you might look at. (Not an extensive list)

  • Spinal position
  • Spinal AROM
  • Ankle ROM
  • SIJ mobility
  • Prone internal rotation
  • Thoracic Spine AROM
  • Hamstring AROM
  • ITB length
  • Hip flexor lengthon
  • Groin Strength
  • Quadriceps length
  • Hyper mobility
  • Motor/Core Control- looking at timing of muscle activation

There was a lot of practical elements looking at exercise prescription and how you would take your data forwards into a profile. The process I will incorporate into my practice will look at:

  1. Mobility
  2. Motor Control
  3. Functional Patterning.

We can incorporate this method into practice to formulate a comprehensive treatment or exercise prescription. It is difficult to demonstrate this in a blog post but basically the rational for this is because quality stability is driven by quality proprioception. And Quality functional movements cannot occur with restriction. So we should be addressing restrictions in RX, fire up the NMSK system and then consolidate learning with functional patterning.

For mobility we should be addressing myofascial length and Joint Range this links back to muscle slings which may impact of an athletes training. I am not going to go through the different slings and predisposition to different injuries as I will be here all day but some good examples can be found here: http://www.mobilitywod.com/#[/

or in the book “How to become a Supple Leopard”

After Mobility we can address motor control which is looking at stabilisation working in the new range of movement you have achieved. Some of the things which may be included are: Rolling, Dead lifting and chop and lift. This element demonstrates perfectly how much of MSK physio can relate to Neuro physio.

Finally we look at motor patterning using new control and range and incorporating them into functional movements. Something people might want to read around is Reactive Neuromuscular Training.

Your client should now be ready for S+C training however the whole process falls under the broad umbrella of S+C so there are links between the two, highlighting the need for more integration and a holistic approach.

The second part of the course focused very much on the principles of S+C incorporating RAMP principles into training. Work by Ian Jeffery’s comes into this. Elements we should be including within S+C are :

  • Needs Analysis: Requirements of the sport, movement Ax and Physiological Ax.
  • Warm Up: Raise- Increase HR etc, Activate- key muscle groups, Mobilise- look at movements not muscles and  Potentiate- sport specific drills.
  • Have an understanding of SPORT and FITT principles (not just giving 3x sets of 10)

So this was just a whistle stop tour of the course and this blog is not an exhaustive program of what you would consider but may give you some prompts to look at different elements of your practice. The main learning points I took away from the course are:

  1. When, Where and How to conduct an athletic screen and profile.
  2. The importance of looking at Mobility>>Motor Control >> Functional Patterning
  3. RAMP principles
  4. The importance of specific and tailored training regimes.
  5. The importance of understanding the needs of your athlete.

Thank you for taking an interest in my blog.  Next week I will be attending the CSP industrial relations committee meeting at CSP head quarters so my next blog is likely to be centred around that.

If you have any comments please post to my wall or tweet me @LCphysio

Create Foundations First!

It has been a while again since my last blog! I have been very busy with work, gym and trying to tame a new ex racehorse I have obtained!! Most people who know me know I like to keep myself busy! The last time I wrote my blog I had just started my job at Derby Hospitals NHS FT, moving onto elderly medicine. I am now talking to you on my second to last day oN my rotation and I am now going to talk a little bit out my progress and some of the things I have come to realise on my journey!

From past experience working at the Queen Elizabeth hospital, on a medicine ward. I had identified I needed to continue to develop my ward prioritisation and management skills to be successful on my new rotation of elderly medicine. It was difficult coming to Derby because having only experienced physiotherapy in Birmingham there were different policies and procedures to follow. For example in the morning we have a daily board round to discuss patients with the MDT whereas in Birmingham we had a weekly MDT meeting. I have found the board round has worked quite well because it creates an opportunity to discuss problems and identify patients earlier who are becoming medically fit for discharge. Although I am from Derbyshire, I never realised how huge the county is, so figuring out where patients are located was initially a challenge however this was made easier with the fantastic nurses completing  inpatient rehab forms for us after completing goals (what a luxury!).

So I wanted to talk about some of the things I have learnt along the journey which I hope will be useful to all physiotherapists not just students and graduates. My opinions are not gold standard they are just an opinion so please formulate your own clinical reasoning.

Prioritisation 

This is a skill I have really had to refine. In day to day life I am a very organised person however  my problem in terms of the ward management were I wanted everyone to have daily physiotherapy sessions. But unfortunately i realised this is not always possible due to the complex busy caseload . I Initially I found it difficult to lead the caseload partly because there was more than one physio  on the ward, my supervisor (which is great for learning). So we tried not to tread on each others toes. Further more I also lacked confidence and experience to challenge some of the views of the MDT with regards to discharge planning which hindered my initial development. With the complexity of some of the cases on the ward it took me a bit of time to demonstrate my full prioritisation skills, but over the last 4 months I have progressed to the point of feeling confident that I could transfer my ward management skills to any acute ward based setting. 

 

So below are some of the things I have learnt along the way:

  • Everyone has different methods for prioritising, but the way I have gone about it in a simplistic view due to the many factors which interplay : Respiratory patients not managing their own secretions, new patients who need a full assessment (prioritising patients who are requiring chest physio and those coming up to be medically fit for discharge), patients who are medically fit for discharge without a plan for discharge, patients at risk of deterioration if they are not seen and finally patients who are being monitored on the ward.
  • Prioritise patients who require assistance of  2 to ensure staffing can match the need in the afternoon.
  • Unfortunately when you want to see patients on the ward most of the time they do not always fit in your specific time slot so you have to be flexible with your management. 
  • Don’t be afraid to delegate you are not alone (hopefully). If you work with a physio assistant is there any patients that they could see for you on their own? Is there any admin needs they could complete for you?
  • And finally relax! You can only do what you can do! You are not superman or woman! (although I try to be),,, you are better to complete assessments thoroughly to create a plan rather than coming out of your assessment thinking what information have I gained from that?

Multidisciplinary Team Working

I have been very fortunate on my ward to work with a fantastic MDT who are very pro therapy to facilitate discharge. Coming onto my ward I initially felt the high bed pressures looming! However, this has encouraged me to devise a plan earlier and ensure I was continuously liaising with members of the MDT to create a discharge plan with the aim of preventing readmission. Working with the Frail elderly you will be presented with some complex cases such as patients at risk of falls, cognitive impairment, patients refusing social services or patients who do not meet social services funding, patients with complex commodities and finally patients with varying conditions.

Sometimes you are presented with some very emotive cases and you can feel as though you are playing with peoples lives. From our point of view we can only recommend what a patient should do to maintain there safety. However, if patient has capacity to accept risk or go home ignoring recommendations then that is their choice to make. We should be facilitators not dictators. I sometimes felt quite stressed with some of the situations I was faced with, with some patients being border line whether they are safe at home or not. However that stress is important because it ensures I am conscious of my decisions to strive for the best care for each individual patient. I think if you don’t have some form of internal stress and are going through the motions in your job this may come back and bite you in some point of your career. For patients we should be assessing them holistically and taking a 24 hour approach to theIR discharge…. Are they able to manage hygiene needs between care calls? Are they able to sit between care calls? Do they have any pressure sores? Do they have a cognitive impairment? Are they safe with there mobility? Are they able to complete bed/chair and toilet transfers? and finally Are they any safety hazards or risks for the patient returning home? These complex discharges cannot be completed seamlessly without an MDT approach so get to know your team and start communicating!

Preceptorship

It wasn’t long ago I was talking about starting my preceptorship! I am pleased to say I have now completed it to 6 months and have gathered evidence throughout my rotation to support my objectives, The objectives I was set were:

Working with patients and groups: I demonstrated this through joint sessions with my supervisor and a self evaluation form,

Working with colleagues and other agencies: I demonstrated this through a complex case study with a reflective piece and copies of some of my record keeping demonstrating liaison with different members of the team.

Written Communication: I demonstrated this by taking 5 sets of notes and analysing what was good and bad about them.

Using Local and clinical policies relating to working practice: I completed a reflection on infection control and completed a notes audit for the team.

Aside from my preceptorship I was set rotation objectives which interlinked with the programme. It might be a bit geeky but lets face it not many people spend time to document their experiences like me anyway ,but, the preceptorship process really did hone my reflective skills which will support a career long commitment to reflection and CPD in future practice. 

I have loved my time working with the elderly medicine team and I have had ample opportunities to develop my clinical reasoning, prioritisation and overall ward management. I now feel confident that I can transfer these skills to another acute ward based setting, to deliver a quality service to my patients. It was fed back to me that I sometimes set my expectations too high of myself. This has been the case for many years but it is the driving force which allows me to strive for the best. On the other hand, I realise that it is important to get the foundations right first to  develop a solid base for development and that there is no need to rush, at the end of the day I am only still in my 1st year of graduating :-S!

 

Action Plan and the Future.

So in the pipe line for me…. next Tuesday I will be starting on my respiratory rotation (eek), I have completed the 2 week intensive training given by the trust so it is now up to me to get my head in the books to get my head back into respiratory management! Aside from this you may be aware from my last post I wanted to find a mentor to help refine my leadership skills…. well I am pleased to say I have found one and not just anyone. Sarah Bazin OBE has happily agreed to help me and we will be meeting next week :-). Sarah is the current chair of the European Region of the World Confederation for Physical Therapy (ER-WCPT) so I am honored to be working with her over the coming months!

My latest action plan…

  • Revisiting my respiratory assessments
  • Thinking of objectives for my respiratory rotation
  • Creating a 5-10 year plan with the help of Sarah as appropriate

I think that will be enough to keep me going for now. Thank you for taking an interest in my blog! Please feel free to leave a comment or Tweet me @LCphysio .