Life-Saving Healthcare Innovations Led By Nurses

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When it comes to new and innovative products and procedures in healthcare, registered nurses (RNs) are often the brains of the operation.

Nurse in scrubs working with technology

Their inventions and ideas range from life-saving equipment such as the crash cart, invented in 1968 by Anita Dorr, to practical ideas such as a lightweight device that allows ostomy patients to live more active lives. A growing number of hospitals are relying on nurse innovations to help solve modern healthcare challenges. RNs are major leaders in that effort, especially in the area of new products and ideas.

Nurses are positioned to make advancements in clinical care and other areas of nursing. Innovative RNs rely heavily on their education not only to come up with great ideas but also to make them a reality. Duquesne University’s RN-BSN onlineprogram offers ambitious nurses the opportunity to continue their career momentum and education at the same time.

The Role Nurses Play As Innovators

Among the core skills of nurses who innovate is the ability to solve problems, from improving practices to creating new products. Some notable examples:

  • Dorr, an emergency department nurse, developed with the idea for the crash cart when she saw how she and her fellow nurses were constantly scrambling for necessary equipment to treat patients in crisis. She enlisted her husband’s carpentry skills to have him build a wheeled cart and stocked it with equipment that could be used during a code, including intubation supplies and medications. Dorr’s cart is now used worldwide.
  • Georgann Carrubba, an RN in Batavia, NY, invented a cap for colostomy pouches to improve patients’ quality of life. The device, called the Choice Cap, is intended to be more secure and less obtrusive than traditional ostomy bags. Carrubba said the design hugs close to the body, allowing patients to return to active lifestyles. Her idea won the $25,000 grand prize at the Rochester Venture Challenge in 2016, the Daily News reported.
  • Community nurse Neomi Bennett, an RN in London, wanted to do something to help nurses and patients dealing with deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which occurs when blood clots form in the deep veins, often the legs. Many doctors require patients to wear compression stockings, which can be difficult to put on because they are very tight. Bennett invented the Neo-Slip, a simple foot covering that allows compression stockings to be slipped on with ease. The stockings help prevent swelling and improve blood flow through the legs.
  • Operating room RN Jill Byrne of the Cleveland Clinic created a vest to keep surgical staff cool under hot operating room lights. The lightweight vest contains pockets to hold ice packs and is designed to fit under surgical gowns to fight heat stress.
  • Many medical journals and the National Institutes of Health cite Sister Jean Ward, a British nurse, for the 1956 discovery of sunlight’s healing effects on infants with jaundice. When Ward took the babies outside, their jaundice-caused discoloration faded. The discovery led to the invention of phototherapy, which is still used to treat jaundiced babies.

How Nurse Innovation Affects The Medical Field

Nurse innovations have not only helped save lives, they have also saved hospitals millions of dollars. In some cases, the innovations help reduce readmission of patients, which also saves lives and money.

A recent study reported by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) found that nurses at 42 hospitals around the United States developed ideas that improved patient care and were expected to collectively save hospitals $28 million a year. Among the results: the number of patient falls, pressure ulcers, and urinary tract infections associated with catheters decreased.

“These outcomes solidly reaffirm the value of investing in bedside nurses’ leadership development,” said AACN CEO Dana Woods.

The Role Of Education In Innovation

Nurses are leaders in their communities, and with the right education they can make a major impact on their field through leadership, ideas, and invention.

Duquesne University students are also making technological innovations. Three School of Nursing faculty members were part of a team that won the 2016 BAYADA Award for Innovation in Health Care Education. The team created a web-based “virtual clinic” where nursing students could interact with clients from diverse backgrounds to learn about and plan prenatal care. The program focused on a rural Amish community and an underserved neighborhood.

For all nurses, there are many advantages to earning a BSN education. Major healthcare advocacy groups, including the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), say academic progression is essential to improving healthcare delivery. Nurses at the baccalaureate level are better educated and skilled to provide care in increasingly complex healthcare environments.

Through RN-BSN courses, nurses can expand their career options and opportunities to invent and innovate for the future of healthcare. The RN-BSN Online program at Duquesne University allows students to learn advanced problem solving and clinical care skills to craft their own life-changing nursing innovations.

About Duquesne University’s Online Bachelor Of Science In Nursing (RN-BSN) Program

The Duquesne University’s RN-BSN online program is 100 percent online, so RNs can pursue their education while they continue their careers. The program offers three start dates per year and accepts transfer credits.

The RN-BSN online program–recognized as among the best in the United States–can be tailored to fit each nurse’s background of experience, whether they have a diploma or associate degree in nursing. The RN-BSN courses provide evidence-based approaches that can be translated from classroom work to clinical care. To learn more, visit Duquesne University’s online RN-BSN website.