Registered Nurse Oversight: Saving Someone's Life

We received a call as a response from an advertisement that we ran in one of our area’s parish bulletins last Friday.    The call  was from a woman whose mother lived in a neighboring town. She was looking for general help for her 89 year old mother for bathing and some shopping needs, either accompanying her or performing some rudimentary errands for her. Some other health care agency would have simply dispatched a CNA to start performing these tasks for her.

As standard procedure in any case received like this from our Brightstar office, an R.N., in this case my Director of Nursing,  was dispatched to perform a preliminary initial assessment of the elderly woman’s needs (on a Saturday!), her living situation, home safety review, and review of the woman’s over-all health. What my DON discovered, unbeknownst to the woman’s daughter and hidden under her sock, was that the woman was suffering from cellulites on her right leg. The leg was purple with a pitting edema, and threatened to become septic. Red serosanginous drainage was occurring and was outwardly draining from the area of the leg. My nurse called her doctor and strongly recommended that the woman be examined and admitted. She was taken by her daughter to an area hospital ER and was then immediately admitted as an in-patient.

Hospital results revealed that she had cellulites without sepsis, left ventricular hypertrophy, atrial fibrillation, and acute dialistolic heart  failure. Had the cellulites become septic and poisoned her blood system, particularly with the weakened condition of her heart, death may well have shortly been upon her! She was sent home after 2 days of IV meds, with appropriate additional oral medications, and my CNA will begin working with her starting soon.

Because of BrightStar’s policy in bringing new cases on board, and having the nursing staff able to perform this level of diagnostics, we may well have saved this patient’s life.