Nurses have always helped their patients get the best care. You will see them checking their patient’s pulses, drawing their blood, and taking care of them when they are sick. But caring for patients is not the only thing that nurses do to help others.
What many people don’t know is that throughout history, nurses have been inventing medical equipment or devices that have changed patient outcomes, including how they receive treatment.
It all started with Florence Nightingale, who advocated for better sanitary conditions in hospitals to prevent infections. She highlighted the importance of maintaining hygienic conditions in hospitals and the need to improve nutrition and the general conditions in which patients were kept.
Her efforts directly impacted the current standards of hospital conditions. Other nurses followed suit and came up with innovations that have touched many patients’ lives. Here are three simple medical inventions created by nurses that have continued to change lives and patient outcomes.
- Crash Cart
A crash cart is a set of shelves, drawers, or trays used in hospitals to transport and dispense emergency equipment or medication at the site of a surgical emergency. Nurses use the crash cart to carry cardiopulmonary resuscitation instruments and other medical supplies.
In 1968, Anita Dorr created a wooden prototype after noticing that nurses were taking a lot of time to gather the right equipment for treating critically ill patients.
Today, crash carts are available in almost all emergency rooms and patient care units. Unlike the wood prototype invented by Anita Dorr, the modern ones have wheels that hold things like medications, IV lines, heart monitors, and defibrillators. They help to enhance efficiency in hospital emergencies by enabling nurses to save time and increase the prospects of saving a life.
- Neonatal Phototherapy
In the 1950s, a nurse named Sister Jean Ward took newborn babies affected with jaundice outdoors. She believed that sunlight could be a better treatment option for the condition. After taking several babies outside, she noticed that exposing them to sunlight reduced their condition.
For the next several years, randomized clinical trials took place, and the use of phototherapy in the treatment of jaundice in newborn babies became a common practice.
Although it started with sunlight, doctors today can treat neonatal jaundice using colored light called phototherapy. It involves applying a specific frequency of blue light with overhead lamps on a baby. The treatment then changes trans-bilirubin into the water-soluble cis-bilirubin isomer. That alters some of the bilirubin into a less neurotoxic form through reversible photoisomerization.
- Ostomy Bag
In 1954, Danish nurse Elise Sorensen had a sister who had undergone an ostomy operation. It is a procedure that takes out the end of the intestine through a person’s abdomen. That allows waste to exit properly via a surgically created stoma.
But after the operation, her sister felt uncomfortable socializing with others because she feared the stoma would leak. At that time, patients used metal or glass capsules to provide a means for the collection of waste.
To help her sister, she created a disposable ostomy bag that would attach to the body through an adhesive ring. Several decades later, and after years of research, the medical device is still in use. It has helped many people who have undergone ostomy surgery to live normal and healthy lives.
Nurses have always been at the forefront of helping to improve patient care. They have led the way in improving patient services and hygiene protocols in hospitals. But apart from patient care, nurses have also invented medical items such as the feeding tube for paralyzed veterans, ostomy bags, and color-coded IV lines to improve patient care and outcomes and reduce medication errors.