Nurses Save Lives

by, Christine Douglass, RN
Florida Hospital Heartland Medical Center

As a charge nurse on a busy Labor & Delivery unit I am responsible for the nurses on my team that work each day with me. On one particular day we had a patient who was scheduled for a repeat cesarean section for her second baby. Everything was going fine with her recovery in PACU, until I heard an unfamiliar alarm sounding on the unit.

I looked up at the fetal monitor board to see if the monitors indicated anything wrong. I saw that the patient in room 202, who was also in PACU, had a blood pressure of 70/40 and a heart rate of 160. I ran into the room and asked the nurse if she had seen the monitor.

She stated that she had just given the patient IV pain medication and that was why her heart rate was high and blood pressure was low. I said that is unusual for that to happen, it looks more like she is going into shock. I told her to start a second IV line and open both line wide. I checked her fundus to find out that her uterus was boggy and when massaged a mountain of clots came out.

I rang the call bell and asked OB tech to get the scale to weigh the clots and had another nurse, who had since come into the room, to call the doctor and get me an order for methergine. Methergine was given and in 15 minutes more clots were expressed and weighed. By this time we had weighed a total of 1200-1300 mls, not including the 800 mls she had lost in the OR. I asked the nurse to call the doctor back and when she did she said to prep the patient and take her to the OR, the doctor was on her way to the hospital. The patient was taken to the OR and given several units of blood and FFP.

Her uterus was saved for the time being and she was sent to the ICU for the night to be closely monitored. Two days later when she returned to our unit she told me her side of the story. She stated that while everything was happening to her she felt like she was above the room looking down and then she saw her grandparents sitting on a park bench. She told them that she wanted to stay with them and they told her she had to return to take care of her little girls. When she left she told me that we were her angels and we had saved her from death and she appreciated all we did for her and her family.

Later that day the doctor thanked me for “catching” the change in vital signs before she had gotten any worse and that I had probably saved her life. It makes be proud to be able to save someone’s life and reaffirms to me that I made the right career choice many years ago. I love what I do.

2 thoughts on “Nurses Save Lives

  1. Lisa A. Miller, CNM,JD says:

    What a powerful story, and what a credit to your clinical skills and critical thinking.It is also a very important cautionary tale, as the other person you saved was the nurse who did not recognize the serious and dangerous clinical picture. It is crucial that nurses like you share these stories and that hospitals recognize the critical need for staff education and development, so that all nurses can practice safely and competently. Thank you for sharing this, and thank you for being a true professional, your colleagues and patients are very fortunate to have you!

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