Monday, February 27, 2012

Silly published medical studies

Looks like I've got to get myself some rosemary!

Below is an article from a tweet I got from Web.MD health news.  Makes me wonder if 20 people is truly a good sample size, and that for a non-double blind study...  However, I've got my medical ethics exam coming up on Wednesday, and need all the extra 'smarts' I can get.

Studies and headlines like this one make me shake my head, especially when the mainstream media picks up and publishes them.  One day people are avoiding eggs completely, next they're filling up on some vitamin.  Given that most people don't even read the entire article, let alone question the study's design, really makes me shake my head even more.

I love this sentence near the end of the article below.  "...there is nothing to say it (rosemary) is potentially harmful, at least in the short term."

Bring on the rosemary plants!!!  It can't hurt, can it?  (at least probably not between now and first year of nursing school being over...)


Can the Scent of Rosemary Make You Smarter?

The Scent of Rosemary Oil May Improve Speed and Accuracy During Mental Tasks
WebMD Health News
Reviewed byLouise Chang, MD
Feb. 24, 2012 -- Can a whiff of rosemary boost your performance at work or school?

It’s possible. A new study suggests that the pungent and pine-like scent of rosemary oil may improve speed and accuracy when performing certain mental tasks.

Twenty people were asked to perform subtraction exercises and a task to see how quickly they could process new information before and after being exposed to the scent of rosemary in their work stations. Researchers measured participants’ blood levels of 1, 8-cineole, rosemary's main chemical component, after the experiment.

The higher their blood levels of this compound, the better the participants scored on these tasks, the study shows. Speed and accuracy got better, but the oil did not seem to improve alertness. Exactly how rosemary can improve mental ability is not fully understood.

The findings are published in Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology.
Alan Hirsch, MD, is the director of the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago. He says the findings take aromatherapy to a whole new level. “This opens up the doorway for us to explore other odors and how they affect people,” he says.

So, should we place some rosemary-scented potpourri in our work station?

“It is something to think about if you want to improve your learning, as long as you like the smell of rosemary,” Hirsch tells WebMD.

More Research on Rosemary’s Brain-Boosting Effects Needed

Christy C. Tangney, PhD, says more study is needed to see how, or even if, rosemary affects how quickly and accurately we perform mental exercises. She is an associate professor in the department of clinical nutrition at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. “This is an intriguing concept, but very preliminary,” she says.

The findings could be due to chance or something else besides the fragrance. “There is something here. I don’t know that I could conclude that it is the aroma of the rosemary that is associated with improvements though,” Tangney says.

She agrees with Hirsch. If you like the scent of rosemary, there is no reason not to surround yourself with it. “Rosemary has been used as an herb for generations, and there is nothing to say it is potentially harmful, at least in the short term.”

Tuesdays with Morrie

I re-read this book of mine a few days ago (Tuesdays with Morrie, by Mitch Albom), and enjoyed its message yet again.  I'm the type of person who likes to go back and re-read my favourite books, some of them even over and over and over...

One passage stood out in this re-read of the book, as spoken by Morrie:

"So many people walk around with a meaningless life.  They seem half-asleep, even when they're busy doing things they think are important.  This is because they're chasing the wrong things.  The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning."
 Before my nursing school/career change phase, I'm not sure I'd go so far as to call my life completely meaningless, but it was simply living the life I had.  I managed to do some fulfilling things, and was definitely loving my family life.  But much of the days were spent on 'auto-pilot' - just getting through the days, and getting what needed to be done, done.  Maybe it feels meaningless, when it is not doing work we particularly enjoy, and it start getting you down after awhile.  Yet, you are in the work, it is definitely a good job, but just not compatible to your personality, interests and priorities.  Just not a good 'fit'. 

Now, I feel like I'm more of an active participant in my life, choosing to do what I really want to do. There are, of course, still the mundane, every-day things that need to be done, but when the bigger things, the dreams that one has start getting fulfilled, that brings a few feeling to the days, even the mundane stuff.  And, as I allow myself to finally believe that I'm actually making this change (yes, it takes me awhile sometimes to truly believe the big things in life are true!), it feels amazing.

I'm not sure I'm expressing myself very clearly, but it will have to suffice for now.  Lots of reading still has to be done, for Wednesday's medical ethics/philosophy midterm!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Am I "snygga" enough for this nursing job???

Haha...I just learned my first Swedish word - 'snygga' -- meaning 'somewhere between hot and good looking'!

I came across this gem from a Swedish paper (how do I find these articles on the web???)

Seriously, I can see already that this nurse stereotype business is going to be a pet peeve of mine in my new career.  This sexual stereotype and the 'all nurses do is bring bedpans' role are already sore points with me, and I'm not even in the field yet. 

Just a few weeks ago, I got asked by an older (male!) family member, when we were talking about my nursing school exams, if I was qualified to hand out bedpans yet.  Nice.  Really.Nice.

If all I wanted to do was hand out bedpans, I would not be spending so much time and effort on BScN courses such as neuro-anatomy and clinical microbiology.  I would have just taken the 6 week Personal Support Worker course, and be done with school, and maybe even kept my professional day job in communications.  And frankly, when the time comes that you need to be handed a bedpan, you could be grateful that somebody is there doing that for you, who may actually want to be there, and who cares about your needs, be it RN or PSW.

I'm not saying I'm above giving a bedpan, I'm not.  I fully expect to do that, probably lots of that in clinicals, but as an RN I'll also be able to do so much more than that. 

I will end up working in either Labour & Delivery, or the Intensive Care Unit.  I've been through L&D three times, so I know the degree of professionalism and knowledge the nurses must have in that unit, and I've spent much time as a volunteer in the ICU, so I also know just how much knowledge is required for RN's to have there (our family MD, who knows me quite well, was actually also suggesting ICU as a option for me, given that it requires nurses to have a high degree of diagnostic ability - thanks for the compliment!).  And who knows, but at this stage, I'm even seriously planning to complete my Nurse Practitioner degree.

Definitely more than just 'bedpans' and 'sponge baths' in my future.

Anyhow, if anyone from my work is still reading my blog, if I don't show up for work on May 1, as planned, now you know where I'll be, and I promise to send you all a postcard from Sweden!!!

(P.S.  OK, reality check, I'm probably not "TV-series hot" enough to qualify, especially by Swedish standards!  LOL!!!  I'll show up at my desk job on May 1, as planned.....)


Swedish hospital seeks new 'hot' nurses

Published: 20 Feb 12 16:01 CET |
A hospital in Stockholm has published a job advertisement trying to attract nurses who are both qualified and "TV-series hot" in what has been explained as an "attempt to catch people’s attention".
"We're looking to recruit competent nurses above all, but we wanted to stick out a bit with our advertising campaign, and we managed to do that," said nursing manager Jörgen Andersson of the Stockholm South General (Södersjukhuset) to The Local.

The advert read:

“You will be motivated, professional, and have a sense of humour. And of course, you will be TV-series hot or a Söder hipster. Throw in a nurse's education and you are welcome to seek a summer job at Södersjukhuset’s emergency department."

“We want people to be curious and have a little imagination,” said the head nurse Elisabeth Gauffin about the campaign to the Metro newspaper.

The internet advert has now clarified that the term "TV-seriesnygga" and "Söder hipster" were phrases directly borrowed from a quote from daily Dagens Nyheter's Sunday supplement, where a satisfied customer had praised the service of the hospital using the same words.

The Swedish word “snygg” (or “snygga” in this case) can be translated as somewhere between hot and good looking.

However, Andersson doesn’t believe that the advert could be interpreted as exclusionary.

"We think that people understand that it was written to catch people’s attention, there's been no negative feedback,” he said.

The positions are advertised to fill the vacation cover for the summer of 2012, with the opportunity of permanent employment thereafter.

The ad did not specify if a photo must be attached with the application, but Andersson says it would make no difference.

"Of course, being good looking is no requirement at all. We put out an ad looking for interest and we got a great response. We want a nurse who is qualified and good at their job, regardless of looks," he told The Local.
Oliver Gee (

Here is a link to the article, from the Swedish paper:

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

First foray into health communications!

I hope to one day merge my MA in communications and my work-acquired communications/writing skills, and apply them to the medical profession.

Here is my first such attempt.  :-)

The article below was posted today on the CBC news health website (full article and link/source below).

It cites a recently released US study, (published in JAMA, an extremely reputable medical journal) that highlights (yet again), the differences between men and women, when it comes to heart attack symptoms, their treatment, and outcomes. 

Most people associate the crushing chest pain, left arm and jaw pain as classic heart attack symptoms.  This is the most typical case in men, but in women it is very different, and I want to do my little bit to get that message out there.

Heart attack symptoms are very different in women, and they are outlined below, as listed by the American Heart Association.

Because women have such differing heart attack symptoms, being more vague than those of men, (and maybe also partly given some women's tendencies to sweep aside vague symptoms as less of a priority, given busy lives and other pressing priorities), women don't get the treatment they need, when they need it.

Please read the article and symptoms below, and file it away in a part of your brain, where it will be readily accessible if one day you need to recognize and ACT on these symptoms, either for yourself, or someone you love.  And pass this info on to others you care about.  We need to spread the word.


P.S.  Yes, I'm going to love nursing.....  :-)


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I love school

I cannot believe I am writing that title, at my stage in my life, but it is true.  I've always loved school, and loved learning new things, but this time round I truly love what I am learning.

I love neuro-anatomy.  That is what I'm studying right now.  I love to be able to write that I love studying neuro-anatomy.

Just had to get that out there!


Monday, February 20, 2012

This is fascinating

The article posted and credited below, caught my eye a few weeks ago.  I simply marveled at what the medical field is able to do, and what the human body is able to accept.

And to think I may be a small part of something like this one day???  Mind boggling.



Girl has 6 organs replaced at once

Posted: Feb 3, 2012 4:23 PM ET

Last Updated: Feb 3, 2012 6:05 PM ET

A 9-year-old Maine girl is home from a Boston hospital healthy and active and with a new stomach, liver, spleen, small intestine, pancreas, and part of an esophagus to replace the ones that were being choked by a huge tumour.

It's believed to be the first-ever transplant of an esophagus and the largest number of organs transplanted at one time in New England.

Spunky and bright-eyed as she scampered around her family's farmhouse outside Portland, Alannah Shevenell said Thursday that she's glad to be feeling well again and able to go sledding, make a snowman, work on her scrapbooks and give her grandmother a little good-humoured sass.

The best part, though? "Being home," she said. "Just being home."

It was 2008 when Alannah, then 5, began running a fever and losing weight while her belly swelled. Doctors discovered the tumour that year and twice attempted to remove it, as it made its way like octopus legs from organ to organ. But it was difficult to access what turned out to be a rare form of sarcoma, said Debi Skolas, Alannah's grandmother, and chemotherapy didn't do the trick, either.
All the time, the growth — known as an inflammatory myofibroblastic tumour — continued to grow in her abdomen, causing pain, making it hard to eat and swelling her up with fluid. Surgery was the last resort to save her life, and Alannah spent more than a year on a waiting list for the organs, said Dr. Heung Bae Kim, the lead surgeon on the procedure at Children's Hospital Boston.

The family was told there was a 50 per cent chance Alannah wouldn't survive the procedure. But without it, she had no chance whatsoever.

Things were more tense than celebratory in October when doctors prepared to remove the growth and the organs in one fell swoop and replace them with organs transplanted in one tangled piece from another child of similar size.

The hardest part was taking out her organs and the tumour, Kim said, calling it a difficult operation with lots of blood loss.

"It's probably one of the most extensive tumour removals ever done," the surgeon said.
Dr. Allan Kirk, professor of surgery at Emory University in Atlanta and the editor-in-chief of The American Journal of Transplantation, said no other esophageal transplant has been reported in medical literature.

After the surgery, Alannah spent three more months at the hospital, with her grandmother sleeping every night in a lounge chair by her bed. She battled infections and complications from the surgery before finally being given the OK to leave.

She arrived back home Wednesday in the 192-year-old house on a country road where she lives with her grandmother and grandfather, Jamie Skolas, in Hollis, a town of 4,500 residents about 20 miles west of Portland.

But just because she's home doesn't mean she's out of the woods. Alannah has to take nine medications each day, some two, three or four times. Her grandparents have to precisely measure what goes in and comes out of her body, and check her blood sugar.

She has an ostomy pouch and feeding tube attached to her for nutrition as she slowly gets used to eating again. Scars from her surgeries look like a roadmap on her stomach. A tutor comes to the home 20 hours a week for her schooling.

Thankful for 2nd chance at life

Her immune system is so weak that she can't go to places with large numbers of other people, such as school, church or a mall. She can't eat raw vegetables or fruits unless they have thick skins because of concerns over germs, and she'll never be able to swim in a lake because of the bacteria. The Skolases installed ultraviolet lights in their heating ducts to kill mould, mildew and bacteria that might sicken Alannah.

Alannah is aware of her limitations and what she's been through.

"Don't even ask," she says when the subject of the medical costs, which have been covered by MaineCare — Maine's version of Medicaid — come up.

She's talkative and enjoys bantering with her grandparents.

"Grammy, you're not always right," she said to end a conversation.

The Skolases, who took Alannah in several years ago but declined to discuss the whereabouts of her parents, have made sacrifices for her through the years. Their hand-crafted-furniture business has suffered, with Debi devoting her time to care for Alannah, and the couple has dipped into retirement savings to make ends meet.

Friends have organized a fundraiser to help raise money to offset the costs.
More than anything, though, the family is thankful for the girl's second chance at life and to the family that went through the pain of losing a child and before deciding to donate the organs to help Alannah.

"That was a courageous decision," Debi Skolas said. "I still cry when I think about it."

Friday, February 17, 2012


This is a sad commentary on our society.  Luckily, this is the exception, not the norm. 

They even have "medical personnel on staff", i.e. cook/owner and waitresses, dressed as doctors and "nurses in revealing nurse outfits", respectively. 



Would you risk a heart attack to eat an 'extreme' hamburger?

A man in his 40s suffered a heart attack while eating a Triple Bypass Burger, pictured here, at the Heart Attack Grill in Las Vegas. (Matt York/Associated Press)

A burger joint's slogan "Taste worth dying for!" almost became a self-fulfilling prophecy when an unidentified man suffered a heart attack while eating there.
According to FOX5 Las Vegas, the man in his 40s started sweating, shaking and experiencing chest pains while eating a "Triple Bypass Burger" at the Heart Attack Grill on Saturday night. Amateur video shows the man being wheeled out of the restaurant on a gurney.

The Grill is known for its outlandish presentation and offerings. The menu includes single to quadruple "bypass" burgers, "flat liner fries" fried in lard, and "butterfat shakes."

Patrons weighing in at over 350 pounds eat for free, provided they don't share any of their food. Waitresses are dressed in revealing nurse outfits.

"I actually felt horrible for the gentleman, because the tourists were taking photos of him as if it were some type of stunt. And even with our morbid sense of humour we would never pull a stunt like that,"
owner "Doctor" Jon Basso told ABC News, wearing a lab coat with a stethoscope draped over his shoulder. (Basso is not a licensed physician.)

The Heart Attack Grill hasn't cornered the market on extreme eating, of course. Dangerous Dan's in Toronto is famous for its 24-ounce hamburgers, and won NOW Magazine's "best bet for cardiac arrest" honour.

Fast food chain Burger King's heartiest single menu item in Canada, the
Triple Whopper with Cheese, contains 1240 calories, 83 grams of fat and 1470 milligrams of sodium.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Midterm 1 exams - recap

Well, that was a tough, detailed clinical microbiology exam.  I think it went fine, but it was definitely much tougher than I had expected.  Hopefully my results will reflect that impression that I have about the exam!

The other exam I was somewhat concerned about from two weeks ago, anatomy of the skeletal system and integumentary system, actually, by some miracle, got me a very good result.  And I was so concerned about it!!!  I had already been thinking about options of re-taking the class in the summer, if need be...sheesh.  For the time being, all is very, very well.

The third midterm exam I had was last Friday, on the digestive system.  I got my confidence back after writing that one, as I think it went really well (again, results will tell for sure!).  I was hoping to not be a "one-semester wonder" in nursing school, and then fizzling with my marks in second term...however, I don't think that will be the case.  At least I hope not! Lol!!!

I've been writing and posting a lot more recently.  I so do enjoy writing, and I got to thinking that in hind-sight, just as with a journal, it will be more interesting to have a more detailed description of the journey through the adventure, than just periodic highlights.  So I'm hoping to keep writing more, even it if may seem like banale details at the given moment.

I'm also thinking that starting next semester, the nursing school adventure will definitely get more interesting, when the 'hands on' components start - starting with a simulation lab (before they let us loose on real patients, we will practice in simulation situations!), and then all the various clinical rotations we get to do.  Those experiences will be filled with so many interractions with so many people, that it will be so much more interesting than just memorizing textbooks and writing exams.

However, in addition to memorizing textbooks and writing exams, this semester brings something new -- a term paper!  Ha!  I haven't written one of these in years.  Good thing I enjoy writing....  It's for my Ethics in Health Care class, and I'll be posting more on that soon.

Lunch time!!!

Monday, February 13, 2012

"Ridiculously Simple"

Still studying microbiology for tomorrow's exam.  I must say, this course had a slow start, as my interest in this topic is tiny (hahaha - pun intended!).  However, in recent days, probably mostly due to the fact that there is an exam coming, my interested in it has multiplied exponentially. (OK, no more bacteria-related puns, I promise.)

Seriously, I am getting quite interested in this subject.  A good friend of mine lent me some of her books from medical school, and among them is one entitled, "Clinical Microbiology made ridiculously simple" (2nd edition, by Mark Gladwin and Bill Trattler)

And you know what, even though it is not 'ridiculously simple', given that much time still has to be devoted to learning it all, the approach is great.  The book is full of simple cartoons, which help the student memorize easier (and I am a very visual learner, so this is perfect!).

For example, Chapter 5 of this book presents staphylococci bacteria.  For one specific type, Staphylococcus aureus, we have to know that it is a catalase-positive bacteria, that can be differentiated from the other beta-hemolytic cocci by their formation of a golden pigment when cultured on blood agar. 

So what the textbook does, is present a drawing of a hospital STAFF (staph!), grouped together in a cluster for the photo (staph bacteria grow in clusters), all proudly wearing gold medals around their necks (golden pigment), and two black cats hissing at the group (catalase positive - all staphylococci have the enzyme catalase, streptococci do not).  So basically remembering one simply, silly drawing helps trigger the various key components we need to know for that particular type of bacteria.

Now, if it were only a few bacteria we had to know for Tuesday, then that would truly be 'ridiculously simple'.  Alas, it is more complicated that that!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

NP/MD collaboration- the way of the future in primary health care

The article below is not a great article the way it is written, but it is recent, current and does sum up the reality of the situation facing patients in smaller towns and cities (although patients in larger cities are not immune to this problem either), and what solution is evolving to fill that need.

In my opinion, the NP/MD collaboration is a great medical-service model, and I may even be part of the equation one day!


Nurse clinic seeks help to fill doctor shortage

As more family doctors in the city retire, the clinic's waiting list of patients grows longer

Lakehead Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic

Thunder Bay's nurse practitioner clinic is feeling the strain of the family doctor shortage. The clinic is full and can no longer accept new patients. It's turning to the province for help.
Clinic worker Debbie Karpowich said more people are looking for care because their family doctors are retiring.

"I do... feel sorry for them and ... it's difficult telling them that they have to use walk-in clinics,” she said.

“I mean they've had doctors all their life and now there's no one and they don't know how to handle this and what are they going to do?"

The clinic has enough space to hire two more nurse practitioners, which could serve an additional 1,600 patients. Plans are in the works to put in a request for funding from the Ministry of Health.
Thunder Bay-Atikokan MPP Bill Mauro said he hasn’t been approached by the nurse practitioner clinic to help expand its service. But he said he's committed to nurse practitioners as a solution for orphaned patients, and will do what he can to help.

For now, people like Lawrence and Lillian Buttman are concerned about how they are going to get prescriptions when their family doctor retires.

“Once a month she gets a needle, so [she] needs that needle bad,” Lawrence said.

The couple has been added to the waiting list at the Lakehead Nurse Practitioner Clinic. People have flocked to the Archibald Street clinic in Thunder Bay’s south end, since it opened more than a year ago. Each of the four nurse practitioners who work there now has a full load of 800 patients.
Clinic head Pam Delgaty said more than 175 people are on a waiting list, and the number keeps growing.

"A lot of people are terrified at the thought … [of losing] their family physician."

Friday, February 10, 2012


For the first time in my life...after having studied this several times in the past...I actually thoroughly understand the roles and functioning of the coenzymes of the oxidative pathway.  Hallelujah.  All I can say is that FAD and NAD (which stand for flavin adenine dinucleotide and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, derived from riboflavin and niacin, respectively) had better be on today's exam! 

Oxidation-reduction reactions, roles of coenzymes, ATP synthesis, metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, the activation of sugar, the %?&* Krebs Cycle, oxidative phosphorylation and the electron transport chain -- bring them on!!!  Oh yeah, and I cannot forget the physiology and biochemistry of the entire digestive system too.  Bring that on too!!!

I'm not entirely sure just how this will make me a (better) nurse, but that it not the point today.  The exam is today, and that needs to be passed, and that`s how it will make me a nurse.  A thorough knowledge of the digestive system I can understand needing to know, and can see how that will help in my work as a nurse, but learning details down to the biochemical level, that's just not that important for a nurse to be able to explain and teach to patients.

I will be so happy when this exam, and this particular course, are over.

Fingers crossed for a good exam this afternoon!

Back to my last minute review...

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Alumnus vs. undergrad

Hahaha!  I just received a phone call from a "first year student" from my university, calling people on the Alumni list, asking for donations to the school!

Methinks I'll just take that donation I'd give to the school, and put in right back in my bank account!

I guess that's what I get for being both an alumnus and an undergrad at the same time!

*&^%$ Krebs Cycle!!!

Hans Krebs and I are not friends. 

I guess I really shouldn't blame him specifically, because had he not discovered the Krebs cycle, somebody else was bound to figure it out, and I'd still have to be learning it this week.

Metabolism and biochemistry are just topics that I cannot seem to get to stick in my brain.  I've studied this crazy stuff in high school, during my science degree (where I even suffered through two biochem courses!), and now again, in middle age, it is before me again.  And I still don't really know it, nor do I care about it in the least. 

Nonetheless, it is on this Friday's midterm exam, and yet again, I must memorize enough of it to get a decent grade.  This is one time I truly feel guilt-free in saying that I am learning something just to know it for the exam.

Hopefully, fingers and toes crossed, this will be the last time in my life that I need to learn this complicated glycolisis-Krebs cycle-electron transport chain nonsense.  (OK, it's not really nonsense, it is actually necessary for life, but to me it is nonsense, as that is what my brain seems to remember, rather than the complicated biochemical reactions that it should be appreciating and memorizing!)

Please, please, please tell me that this will not be part of the Nurse Practitioner curriculum....

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Pause for thought

Here is a link to a Reuters article I came across last summer.  It cites some amazing stats, generated by the World Health Organization.

I find this particularly interesting, in light of what I am learning about in microbiology this semester!  And,, I am happy (and relieved!) to report that I am have not started compulsively washing my hands (yet!).


Going into hospital far riskier than flying-WHO

Thu Jul 21, 2011 8:37pm IST
*Hundreds of millions infected in health settings each year
* The longer the stay in intensive care, the higher the risk

By Stephanie Nebehay
GENEVA, July 21 (Reuters) - Millions of people die each year from medical errors and infections linked to health care and going into hospital is far riskier than flying, the World Health Organisation said on Thursday.

"If you were admitted to hospital tomorrow in any country... your chances of being subjected to an error in your care would be something like 1 in 10. Your chances of dying due to an error in health care would be 1 in 300," Liam Donaldson, the WHO's newly appointed envoy for patient safety, told a news briefing.

This compared with a risk of dying in an air crash of about 1 in 10 million passengers, according to Donaldson, formerly England's chief medical officer.

"It shows that health care generally worldwide still has a long way to go," he said.

Hundreds of millions of people suffer infections linked to health care each year. Patients should ask questions and be part of decision-making in hospitals, which must use basic hygiene standards and WHO's checklist to ensure safe surgical procedures were followed.

More than 50 percent of acquired infections can be prevented if health care workers clean their hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based handrub before treating patients.

Of every 100 hospitalised patients at any given time, 7 in developed and 10 in developing countries will acquire at least one health care-associated infection, according to the United Nations agency.

"The longer patients stay in an ICU (intensive care unit), the more at risk they become of acquiring an infection," it said. Medical devices such as urinary catheters and ventilators are associated with high infection rates.

Each year in the United States, 1.7 million infections are acquired in hospital, leading to 100,000 deaths, a far higher rate than in Europe where 4.5 million infections cause 37,000 deaths, according to WHO.

"Health care is a high-risk business, inevitably, because people are sick and modern health care is delivered in a fast-moving, high-pressured environment involving a lot of complex technology and a lot of people," Donaldson said.

A heart operation can involve a team of up to 60 people, about the same number needed to run a jumbo jet, he said.

"Infection is a big problem, injuries after falls in hospitals is a big problem and then there are problems that are on a smaller scale but result in preventable deaths. Medication errors are common," he said.

Risk is even higher in developing countries, with about 15 percent of patients acquiring infections, said Dr. Benedetta Allegranzi of the WHO's "Clean Care is Safer Care" programme.

"The risk is really higher in high-risk areas of the hospitals, in particular ICUs or neonatal units in developing countries."

About 100,000 hospitals worldwide now use the WHO's surgical safety checklist, which the agency said has been shown to reduce surgery complications by 33 percent and deaths by 50 percent.

If the checklist is effectively used worldwide, an estimated 500,000 deaths could be prevented each year, it says.

"Frankly, if I was having an operation tomorrow I wouldn't go into a hospital that wasn't using the checklist because I wouldn't regard it as safe," said Donaldson. (Editing by Robert Woodward)

Friday, February 3, 2012

"You know you're a nurse when..."

I came across this gem recently.  I have no idea who the author is, so cannot give credit to anyone, but am not claiming credit, either.  I can say this is good!

You know you're a nurse when: You threaten anyone who mentions it being "quiet", You have the bladder capacity of five people, You have been exposed to that many xrays its now a form of birth control, You seriously feel caffeine should be available in IV form, You admire people with "great veins" in the supermarket, Your idea of fine dining is standing up eating a sandwich, You have planned your weekends off for the next two years, Your favorite hallucinogen is exhaustion, You laugh at anyone who names their child "Malena"!!

So watch out, I just may be checking out and admiring your wonderful arm veins!

And for those of you who don't know what "malena" means, you can Google "malena medical terminology" if you are really curious.  Just don't do it during your lunch break, though!  (And please don't name your kid that.)


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Well, that was "interesting"

I'm back home now, after my having written my first mid-term exam of this second semester of nursing school.  Bone anatomy/skeletal system (head to toe, including joints), the integumentary system and its accessory organs.


I am not at all sure how it went, and that is a very odd feeling indeed.  I feel totally stunned, but somewhat better now that I've had a chance to look up a few answers in my notes. Better, but still not good.

What is done, is done.  Nothing more can be done now, except wait for the results and hope for the best.

Oh yes, and I can also buckle down and get studying for the next 3 exams!

There seems to be a feeling among many of my classmates, about having a hard time getting back into the "school groove" this term.  I was talking about this phenomenon with my husband last night, and he casually mentioned, like it was an obvious fact, that the second semester in a bachelors program is generally the most difficult to get through.

When asked why, he explained that the novelty of starting something new had worn off, when first semester was completed.  Yes.  Second semester courses, of first year, are generally extensions of courses that were started in first semester.  Yes.  And they are not necessarily the most interesting courses that will be taken over the course of the entire Bachelor's program.  Very true.  After this semester, there will be clinicals each and every semester. 

So I think he is absolutely right.  The novelty has worn off from starting a new educational path, yet I'm still stuck in the classroom memorizing various knobs and fissures found in bones, when I am so, so ready to roll up my sleeves and start working hands-on with patients.

We just have to get through the next 6-7 more weeks of classes, and it will all be over.

Onwards and upwards, as I like to say!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Three months from today...

...I will be back sitting at my desk, at work.  I cannot believe I've already been off work for five moths!

Now back to reality.  I have my first mid-term exam tomorrow, this time in anatomy. 

Wish me luck!  Here we go again on another round of exams!!!