When Critical Thinking Saves Lives

A typical day of clinical rotations for nursing students involves the care and monitoring of patients. However for Morgan Klein '18, one ordinary day suddenly shifted to a major medical decision.

During Morgan’s shift in the ICU, she noticed an increase in the medication dosage for her patient. Morgan immediately brought this to the attention of her nurse preceptor, who logged into her own account, which showed half the dosage her own screen showed. Morgan ultimately made the decision to ignore what the computer was showing and go with her gut, backed by her own knowledge and clinical experience.

When Morgan notified IT about this inconsistency, they discovered that it wasn’t just her account affected but all student-nurse accounts. A look at the error revealed the computer was prescribing medication for patients at a rate twice as fast as the ordered rate. An alert was immediately sent out across the hospital as well as to another local hospital using the same computer system.

“It was such an uneasy feeling knowing how close I was to doing something that could have affected the patient in a horrible way, and it would have been completely unintentional.” Thanks to Morgan’s recognition and action this problem was sufficiently handled before any patients were overmedicated, which could result in serious complications.

In recognition of Morgan’s courage to speak up when she saw an issue, a group of nurses and administrators from the hospital gathered to present her with an award. The award recognizes exceptional nursing students. For Morgan, receiving this award was an experience that showed her ability to make a difference and care for the whole patient. Gaining critical thinking skills from her Saint Mary’s education prepared Morgan to respond to  difficult situations.

Her classmates and the hands-on experience she’s received from the Saint Mary’s nursing program, inspire Morgan in her future career.  ”We have all seen each other do some pretty awesome things, but we have also seen each other dealing with very serious situations,” she said.

Morgan was able to efficiently handle this situation with the help of her nursing professors and peers. Lessons taught in class every day go beyond the four walls of a classroom; they help students like Morgan gain confidence in making critical decisions. Critical decisions that, in this case, help save lives.

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