How many lives do nurses save a day? One study shows that nurses save lives every day, catching more than two-thirds of safety-compromising medical errors – such as wrong drug dosages – before they reach the patient. Even when errors actually do reach patients, nurses prevent physical harm almost half the time.1 They provide rapid response, assist in triage, double-check the physician’s work and interact with patients to observe important changes.2
Nurses are taking an increased role in healthcare, even acting as primary care providers in some cases.3 Studies consistently show that more nurses, and more educated nurses, correlate strongly to better patient care.4
Sacred Heart University’s RN to BSN online program prepares students to join this more educated nursing force, giving them a chance to contribute to lower mortality rates, better patient outcomes, and fewer patient errors. The skills you gain may even help you save a life.
Here are five real-life examples of a licensed nurse saving the day:
A perioperative nurse identifies a child’s dangerous reaction.5
When nurse Jane Murphy was checking 15-year-old John’s anesthesia history, she noticed that his urine turned reddish brown after every operation, and he had to be “packed in ice” after every procedure. She suspected malignant hyperthermia, and because of that observation, they took appropriate action and he went through surgery with no complications.
A school nurse identifies a seventh grader’s stroke.6
When 14-year-old Isaiah Griffin started vomiting in the midst of a stomach flu outbreak, nurse Carrie Stephenson assumed that was what he had. When she saw him, though, she could tell there was something different about Isaiah’s illness. She had staff call an ambulance while she sat with him, comforting him, monitoring his breathing and blood pressure, and trying to keep him conscious. It turned out to be a stroke near the brainstem.
A dialysis nurse saves two patients with a phone call.7
The clinic in Woodstock, Georgia, has a “no show/no call” protocol which dictates nurses always call patients who haven’t shown up. In the course of one year, a single nurse saved two dialysis patients’ lives by following this protocol.
The first had slipped and fallen in his driveway in winter, and couldn’t get up. The second was getting ready to go to treatment when he passed out. Both were rescued by family members after the call.
A nurse saves a fallen runner at a Florida race.8
There are many stories of off-duty nurses administering emergency care like CPR that saves people’s lives. One example is Amy Smythe, a cardiac nurse who found a man passed out at the finish line of a Florida half-marathon. The man was suffering from ventricular fibrillation. She administered CPR while the ambulance was on its way. He would otherwise have suffered brain damage, or even died.
A mental health nurse prevents a patient from committing suicide.9
When Susan Hemming was suicidal, she had anorexia, often harmed herself and found that her dyslexia prevented her from attending university. She felt no hope, but her nurse, Kelly Hayes, talked her through her problems. She also convinced her to re-take the college entrance test, and helped her follow her dream. Hemming is now studying to be an occupational therapist.
Both on-the-job and off-duty, nurses save the day, every day.
If you’re interested in becoming like one of these life-saving nurses, consider a RN to BSN from Sacred Heart University.