The job of a nurse is one full of responsibilities that can seem routine after being “on the job” for years. But it is the exceptional nurse who recognizes that there is absolutely nothing routine about the job. Why?
- No two patients – or their health issues – are identical
- With so many moving parts comprising the care team, every situation is unique
- Best practices change frequently as discoveries are made
- Each facility or health system has their own processes and protocols – this is particularly relevant to travel nurses
- Equipment used on the job must be fully understood and examined every time it is used.
While all points are salient, the last one is the focus of this article. According to an article in the Modern Medicine journal, there are many factors that can come into play regarding everyday hospital or clinic supplies that can have devastating effects on patients if not used properly. According that that article:
“A broken seal on a package of IV tubing, for example, indicates not only that a product is unsterile but also that pieces or parts may be damaged or missing. Checking expiration dates and maintenance schedules on supplies and equipment can also alert you to potential problems. Look, too, for obvious defects, such as a frayed cord, missing knob, or broken switch.”
It is critical to speak up if you notice something as simple as a broken seal on the packaging of IV tubing. For every nurse who notices this broken seal there could be scores more who don’t. This can become exponentially important if it is a manufacturer’s defect that was not caught by its internal quality control measures.
Focusing on the equipment also means having a full understanding of how to use any piece of technology you touch, view or interpret. If you do not have a full understanding of it, then you must speak up immediately.
The person to whom you would most likely speak up to would be the nurse manager or nurse supervisor. Noticing defects in supplies or equipment can be acted upon immediately by a nurse supervisor or manager. You will likely be acknowledged and thanked for your keen eye. While “fessing up” that you don’t understand how to use a piece of equipment can be a humbling experience, it is far better that you feel momentary discomfort than to jeopardize the safety of your patient.
If you found the points in this article useful, send it to a few of your colleagues. It can open informative conversations about best practices in the use of supplies and equipment – something every nurse can relate to.