Daily Archives

May 25, 2016

Laura Gasparis Vonfrolio and common sense – or September 11 every other day.

By | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

When one speaks of great leaders, they talk about Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Abraham Lincoln.  When one wants to talk about great nurse leaders, They talk about Laura Gasparis Vonfrolio, PhD, RN

I am a Laura Fangirl.laurag

Laura is such a tremendous advocate for nurses and a vicious opponent of iatrogenic injury (healthcare related injuries). Twenty one years ago, she organized a March for safe staffing in Washington DC with 35,000 nurses in attendance. She testifies in front of House committees to support bills. She teaches CCRN, and is a Critical Care expert in her own right.  She is a real live nurse, with real live experience, and a really ALIVE New York attitude.

I recognize it because I am also in possession of that attitude. (Long Island! Shoutout!) Laura has been putting herself out there for nurses for literally decades. Someday I hope I will do one percent of Laura’s work for nursing.  Unlikely, but I have my hopes.

I digress…

Laura was teaching a critical care class and during the hemodynamics lecture, she gave an inspiring and daunting talk about healthcare errors.  Essentially, she said that if you crashed three jumbo jets – full of three hundred people each, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday all year long, it would equal the number of healthcare related deaths per year.  She said this to Congress.  All of her friends were scared to testify.  Naturally, Laura put herself out there for nursing and was the voice of those too afraid to speak.  She testified.  A Congressman had the unmitigated gall to ask her exactly why he would need a licensed nurse at his bedside.

She discussed the possibility of replacing licensed aircraft mechanics with unlicensed mechanics, and asking the guy who cleans the plane to fly it instead.

I will let you watch the video, but Laura makes her point in a powerful way.

The latest study estimates 250,000 deaths each year as a result of medical errors.  Using Laura’s example: if we crashed THREE JUMBO JETS EVERY WEEKDAY, we would almost get to that number of iatrogenic deaths per year. The entire country would go insane if such a thing were to happen in the airline industry, but we allow these deaths to happen in healthcare every single day, all year long.   Deaths caused by the very hospital that was supposed to heal you.

51b0e99297fa3.preview-620Deaths that your family and your healthcare provider will never get over.

Deaths caused by lack of knowledge, egregious practices, honest mistakes, and FAILURE TO RESCUE.

Many of these deaths are for the sake of saving a moderate amount of money for an extra nurse or two per unit.  What cost do we place on a life?

I would like to remind you that three thousand people killed by plane crashes (and terrorism) in the United States on September 11, 2001 completely changed our lives, and our entire airline industry.  Why doesn’t two hundred fifty thousand senseless deaths per year do the same thing for healthcare? And how many iatrogenic deaths go unreported?

What is the real number?

Safe Staffing Saves Lives.






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Fatal healthcare errors

By | Advocacy, Dead | 2 Comments

Healthcare errors are said to be the third leading cause of death in the US at this point.  Depending on who you talk to, between 250,000 and 440,000 deaths each year can be attributed to medical errors. Let us just assume that the lower number is accurate for a moment.  I want to break this down for you.  Data for number of counties and towns (incorporated places) provided by the US census bureau:

  • A quarter of a million deaths each year attributed to medical errors.
  • Five thousands deaths in each state.
  • Eighty people per county.
  • 13 people per town.

Imagine 13 people in your town dying from medical errors this year. Which 13 people will they be? Your kid’s little league coach? Your old piano teacher? The lady who has been giving you fresh tomatoes from her garden for the last decade? A person you have a nodding acquaintance with? A stranger?

Does it matter?  stroke

The public is aware of deaths from breast cancer,  accidents, strokes, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, influenza, and suicide.  There are huge campaigns for many of these diseases and disorders.  Pink for the Cure, Strokes, and Suicide Prevention have billboards up in cities all over the nation.  And medical errors are a silent, pervasive killer. We do not notify the public about it, we do not educate them about it, and blatant medical error deaths are very frequently attributed to other causes.

How do I personally know this? I am one nurse out of nearly five million and I can cite TWO deaths which were blamed on other things.  One of the two was a nurse medication error, and she was insanely busy at the time. She gave short-acting insulin instead of long acting insulin.  Nearly 100 units; and the patient died 45 minutes later with a blood sugar of 13. One was a failure-to-rescue death because the nurse was too new to be on her own and didn’t know what she was looking at. The charge nurse was Shift-Report-calloutbusy, and she had no mentor. I personally watched these two patients die.  

And what about the near misses? I have seen someone accidently bolus a patient with an insulin drip because she placed the tubing in the wrong IV pump channel when moving the patient from a chair to a bed.  (that one lived) I have seen patients given medications they were allergic to.  I have seen incidents of the the wrong ACLS protocol drugs being given (or given in the wrong dosage to a pediatric patient). I am ONE NURSE, and I graduated in 2007.

This cannot be.  

As usual, we can attribute these incidents to staffing problems.  No mentor, insanely busy and understaffed, no experienced nurse to back up a new nurse.  How many bodies will we have to step over to get to a point where we are adequately staffed?  Will it be the body of your kid? Your grandfather? Your UPS guy? Your neighbor?

Does it matter?

We educate the public.  We are nurses.  Start educating the public by walking for patient safety to #SavePat.  Details available soon. Rally in DC on May 4, 2017 to convince your legislators that this is one leading cause of death we can actually do something about!

Call AARP and encourage them to educate their members. Call your senator.  Ask them if they are going to #SavePat.CiYuD7mWEAE14Pg







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EKO- a high tech Stethoscope to save lives all over the world! Wow!

By | Health, International Nursing, underserved populations | No Comments
[box]Let’s say you are on the SMYS Mission to Haiti with NO Cardiologist anywhere for a few hundred miles. [/box] 
Your patient presents with dizziness and shortness of breath upon exertion, transient chest pain, and fatigue.  There is a 12 lead EKG available which shows normal sinus rhythm, and no ST elevation, but there is T-wave inversion in the inferior leads. The patient complains of dizziness during the EKG, with no exertion and no dysrhythmia.  He has no pain at the moment.
You hear SOMETHING when you listen to the heart, but you are not sure what it is because you have never heard it before.  You have nothing to compare it to, and neither does anyone else at this remote Haitian outpost.  It is not a normal heart sound, and that is all you can be sure about.
What do you do? 
There is no Cardiologist. Transporting every patient with these symptoms is just not an option.  These people are poor, and emergency care is a precious resource.  For that matter, is this sound an emergency? Is the patient having a bit of atrial fibrillation, but transient and with an overall low burden? Or is there something structurally wrong with the heart? Are those sounds you are hearing the classic auscultatory finding of Mitral Valve Prolapse; a mid-to-late systolic click followed by a late systolic murmur? Does this person need a Cardiac Cath, an ECHO, an aspirin regimen, or a wait-and-see?

You don’t know. How do you find out? Turn to the Eko Core!

So, what is this thing? The Eko Core Digital Stethoscope is the first & only FDA-approved digital stethoscope on the market to let clinicians amplify heart & lung sounds 40X, wirelessly sync to the HIPAA-compliant Eko Mobile App, visualize, record, save sounds, and forward them on for a second opinion. 

Why is it important? The Eko Core Digital Stethoscope is bringing the stethoscope into the 21st century. Now clinicians can hear heart & lungs sounds more clearly, and get support from their team across the hospital or across the globe. The sounds can also be integrated into the EHR and monitored over time for better consistency of care. The Eko Core and Mobile App is being used in cardiology, newborn screenings, pediatric cardiology, teaching, telemedicine, low-resource care, and primary care by clinicians at hundreds of institutions across the country including Harvard, Mayo Clinic, UCSF, and more.

This is what a 21st century stethoscope looks like!

This is what a 21st century stethoscope looks like!

There are two versions of the Eko Core:

    • 1. “Eko Core Attachment” ($199) attaches onto the regular stethoscope you already have! It attaches to almost all known stethoscope brands such as Littmann, Welch Allyn, ADC, and Ultrascope. You can digitize your own stethoscope!
    • 2. “Eko Core Bundle” ($299) includes the Eko Core Attachment pre-attached to a cardiology-grade stethoscope. Just take it out of the box, and it’s ready to go.

Impact on global health: The Eko Core Digital Stethoscope can be used to improve access to specialty care to billions of patients in low-resource countries around the world. Take Haiti, the poorest country in the western hemisphere with the highest rate of maternal & infant mortality. Eko is used by clinicians in rural clinics there as a relatively inexpensive tool for cardiopulmonary screenings and to secure specialist second-opinions. It can even be live-streamed. Recently, a Nurse Practitioner in Haiti used an Eko Stethoscope to wirelessly send heart sounds to a Cardiologist for a consult…who happened to be on a cruise at the time. Check out the article on it here here.  How awesome is that?

And this company is so cool they are partnering with Show Me Your Stethoscope by providing Eko stethoscopes for our Mission Trips!! 

  • And….Visit www.ekodevices.com for more info and use discount code SMYS2016 at checkout! Members get a $15 discount, AND Eko will donate $15 for every order to the SMYS Foundation. 


Apparently people love this thing…. Check out the awards and recognition.

TIME Magazine’s Best Inventions of 2015

New York Times

Washington Post



Let me know if you like it!



smys eko 1

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