Real Nurses, Real Answers
What are the illnesses, conditions or accidents you see most often that are preventable?
require very special education and close monitoring of their disease. Everything that is placed in their bodies will affect their blood sugar levels, including stress. Alcoholism
and other forms of substance abuse can lead to pancreatitis and liver failure. This may be prevented, but--as we all know--this is easier said than done for the addict facing the problem. Family support is a must in these cases.
Working in critical care I see a lot of non-compliant diabetic patients.
are also at risk of burns--from bathing in water that's too hot or flame burns from the stove. And, of course, everyone should have smoke detectors
installed in their homes.
Most burn injuries are preventable. For youngsters, we remind caregivers to be cautious with hot food and fluids. No kids in the kitchen! No ramen noodles! For infants, test the bath water before bathing. Never let your children play with matches. Adults need to be careful, too, especially around flammable and explosive fluids. Every summer we have several adult patients who get severely burned after using gasoline to ignite a barbeque.
It's been in the news lately that people have been getting sick from antibiotic-resistant bacteria from hospital stays. What are nurses' roles in fighting these infections? And what can patients do to protect themselves?
hospital acquired infections
. For the public, community acquired local skin infections can be reduced by making sure to practice good hygiene: keep wounds covered, do not share razors, towels or sporting equipment. And if you notice a skin lesion that looks suspicious, call your doctor.
In the burn center we utilize a variety of protective gear and good hygiene to reduce the risk of spreading
Again, hand washing is of utmost importance. As for nurses… along with using disposable stethoscopes and wearing isolation gowns when entering infected patients' rooms (to avoid transferring the bacteria to other patients), it is up to the nurses to speak up and remind other hospital staff to do so as well. And patients should not be afraid to speak up themselves. If they don't see the hospital staff entering their rooms washing their hands, they should not be afraid to speak up and ask. At the end of the day, communication is key. Everyone just needs to communicate with one another.
What was your most inspiring experience with a patient?
A 74-year-old man had received a significant burn injury after a car accident and was brought into our burn center. Due to his advanced age and injury, the doctors thought he probably wouldn't survive. When the medical staff approached him to discuss possible outcomes, the patient turned to the doctors and asked, "Can you at least give me a chance?" The patient endured many painful procedures and surgeries but sure enough he showed the doctors! About two months after his admission, he walked out of the burn center with his family to go home. I'll never forget his courage, determination and fortitude. You just cannot predict who will or won't survive. Sometimes, patients defy all the odds.
Many, but one that comes to mind happened just last week. I was leaving the hospital and heard someone calling my name. I turned around and a gentleman and his elderly father approached me. I recognized the son's face but surely did not recognize his father's, the patient. He looks so different now that he's healthy! It's been two years since I took care of his father and yet the son remembered me, by name. He gave me the warmest hug and we stood there in the hospital hallway catching up on how well and how much progress his father has made--going from knocking on death's door and spending weeks in the ICU to only requiring a cane to get around now. It just warmed my heart knowing that I've left such an impression in their lives. I love my job.