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.

Cora’s Law

by, Elizabeth McIntire

In northern Indiana in November of 2009, Cora McCormick was born–a full term apparently normal newborn. Her parents were thrilled at the birth of their first child. Her mother had experienced a perfectly normal pregnancy, labor and delivery. Cora took well to nursing and the new family went home from the hospital 48 hours after Cora’s birth.  Cora, her dad and mom Kristine spent three wonderful days together– until tragedy struck.

Kristine was nursing Cora when suddenly her baby girl turned blue/gray in her arms and stopped breathing. They rushed their newborn daughter to the hospital but nothing could be done. Cora died at five days of life. Cora’s cause of death was congenital heart disease.

Shortly after Cora died, her mother took up a crusade to make congenital heart defect screening in Indiana required as an addition to current newborn screening.

Due to Kristine’s efforts, in January 2012 “Cora’s Law” was passed by the Indiana legislature and required hospitals to screen newborns for critical congenital heart defects.

This is where I got involved. Prior to the law going into effect, perinatal providers throughout the state needed to become aware of the law and how it impacted newborn screening. I was responsible for developing an education program for these providers. As we were gearing up for implementing this law, I had the good fortune to meet Kristine McCormick, witness her advocacy for this screening and witness a mom who’s own heart was broken turn her grief into something truly amazing. I knew that if we could use Cora’s newborn picture—that of a completely healthy looking cubby cheeked baby girl, it would make an impact as we talked to physicians and nurses about the importance of the screening and new law.

Baby Cora

Baby Cora

Kristine gave me permission to use Cora’s picture in our educational presentations and in a postcard I helped develop with the screening algorithm on it. Fast forward to February 1st, 2012, one month to the day after Cora’s law went into effect. On that day a baby boy, Gabriel, was born in southern Indiana. He too looked perfectly normal—like Cora. However, before he went home he underwent the screening that Cora’s mom advocated for. The screen was abnormal. The staff at the hospital repeated the screening and again, he failed. With the screening algorithm at hand, they knew what to do and he was transferred to a quaternary center for management. He was diagnose with a critical heart defect and underwent emergency surgery to correct the issue. He did well postoperatively and was able to return home with his family.

Several months after surgery, Gabriel came back to Indianapolis for a routine postop checkup. It occurred to me that Kristine needed to meet Gabriel’s mom and Gabriel’s mom needed to meet Kristine. I wanted these two women to come together—both bound by motherhood, tragedy and victory. They needed to meet, to heal, hug each other, and share Cora’s baby picture, laugh and cry.

Mother to mother—each of them understanding that Cora Mae McCormick was the reason they were there, the reason Gabriel was wiggling in a blanket in Kristine’s arms. I watched as the local news channel filmed the event and next to me was one of the neonatologists who helped with the statewide teaching efforts. I leaned over and told him—“this is what it’s all about. This is why we do what we do”. It was and still is one of the most profound moments in my nursing career.

Click here for additional information on Cora’s Law. You can also find information on the Cora’s Story Facebook page.

To find out more about pulse oximetry screening, visit: http://www.childrensnational.org/PulseOx/ 

 

McIntire_Elizabeth_2015%5b1%5dElizabeth McIntire, WHNP,WHNP-C, EFM-C
Elizabeth is the Director Maternity & Newborn Health at 
IU Health Riley. Elizabeth started her career in obstetrical nursing and has never looked back. Besides her family, her passions are high risk obstetrics, perinatal safety, and high reliability, challenging the process and modeling the way.

A Nurse Making History

By, Lori Boggan

Organ transplantation, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, dates back as early as 1869 with the first skin transplant. The first kidney transplant occurred nearly one hundred years later in 1954. Organ transplantation has saved countless lives. In 2014, transplantation history was made. It was the year the first transplantation bore life. Continue reading

Our Nurse Heroines

March is Women’s History month where we pay tribute to the generations of women whose commitment to nature and the planet have proved invaluable to society.

Here at AWHONN we honor five nurses who contribution to women and newborn’s health has improved outcomes and saved lives through countless generations. Continue reading

Why I Give: To Honor My Nurse

by, Summer Hunt

IMG_1271“I had a textbook pregnancy,” Pam Spears remembers. She didn’t have a lot of problems with morning sickness, and she even went the Full 40 and then some (her daughter came along 15 days after her due date). “I’d been experiencing contractions for four days when we finally checked into the hospital,” she says. After a few days of little progress and even less sleep, Pam’s husband, John, was grateful when she sent him home to rest a bit. “It’ll be hours before the baby comes,” she’d told him. But waiting in a darkened hospital room at the end of the hall, things started to veer off course from Pam’s uneventful pregnancy. Continue reading

Top 10 Posts of 2015

When we launched AWHONN Connections in May of this year, we could not have imagined the response that we would have received from our members, nurses, parents and members of the media.

In less than a year our blog has received over 232,000 visits, from 167 countries and had 4 blogs republished on the Huffington Post! As the year comes to a close we want to say a HUGE Thank You to our readers and our bloggers.

Here’s Our 2015 Top Ten Round Up! Continue reading

Nurses and Midwives: Combining Forces to Keep Women Healthy

by, Tina Johnson, CNM, MS

NMW2015-Logo-WEB-400px

The US is strapped with increasing maternal morbidity and mortality, widening racial and ethnic disparities, and skyrocketing health care expenditures. The maternity workforce is suffering from worsening shortages. National leaders in women’s health are coming together to create and implement models for optimizing quality, safety, education and policy. Continue reading

The Things You Do Make a Difference

Traciby, Traci Turchin

“But we had this for dinner LAST night” the five year old says.  My joke with the nine year old falls flat because he’s too busy sighing over his lack of clean socks.  “That’s IT!” I tell my husband with a wink, “I’m running away from home and going to work where I’m appreciated!”

I’m one of the luckiest nursing students in the world.  By day I drown in books and deadlines and elementary school paperwork and laundry, but by night I work as a CNA at the birth center of my local hospital.  I know, while the little efforts at home might go unnoticed, no small kindness is missed by our patients. 

We tuck those small kindnesses into our hearts and carry them around, forever grateful. Continue reading