Five Medical Innovations Created by Nurses

Happy National Nurses Week! In celebration of nurses everywhere, check out the following post:

Directly caring for patients isn’t the only way nurses help others. Several nurse-inventors have touched millions of lives with their groundbreaking ideas. Below, we’ve rounded up five inventions created by nurses throughout history.



Crash Cart
The crash cart is a familiar sight in intensive care units and emergency rooms around the world. These wheeled carts hold defibrillators, heart monitors, medications, intubation supplies, IV lines and other nursing supplies that can save the life of a patient. Crash carts are standard today, but they weren’t invented until 1968 when Anita Dorr built a wood prototype in her basement. She consulted with her staff to determine the supplies they might need in a crisis and laid them out logically on the cart. While today’s crash carts are a bit different (made from steel rather than wood for sanitary purposes), they’re still standard in hospitals all around the globe. Dorr’s contributions to the field didn’t stop there. She helped found the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA).


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Feeding Tubes for Paralyzed Vets
Another invention was inspired by WWII. Many veterans were paralyzed or became amputees during the war and had no way to feed themselves. That is, until Bessie Blount Griffin invented a tube that patients could operate with their teeth. Patients bit down on the tube, which would then deliver a mouthful of liquified food. Griffin demonstrated her product on the television show The Big Idea, becoming the first woman and first African-American to appear on the show. Griffin continued to innovate, refining her feeding tube concept and developing, among other things, a disposable cardboard emesis basin.

Color-Coded IV Lines
Medication errors both inside and outside hospitals are a major contributing factor to patient illnesses and deaths. Nurses may only have seconds to choose the right IV line from a tangle of clear plastic tubes to administer a medication properly in a crisis. Terri Barton-Salinas used to attach colored masking tape to differentiate IV lines, but the tape kept getting snagged on bed sheets. She decided there had to be a better way. She shared her idea of color-coded IV lines with her sister (and fellow nurse) Gail Barton-Hay over dinner one night in 2002. They reached out to a patent attorney about the concept and received a patent for the aptly-named ColorSafe IV lines the following year. They eventually partnered with a manufacturer to get the actual products made and are now working to get their color-coded IV lines into as many hospitals as possible.



Ostomy Bag
An ostomy is a surgical procedure that allows bodily waste to exit the body through a hole on the abdomen. There are several different types of ostomies, including a colostomy (not to be confused with a colonoscopy), a urostomy and an ileostomy. The first ostomy containers were prone to leaking and were not disposable. When Danish nurse Elise Sorensen took care of her sister after her colostomy in 1954, she realized the drawbacks of the current ostomy bags and set out to make her own. She created an ostomy bag that combined a disposable plastic pouch with secure skin adhesion that guarded against leaks. This is the same basic design that is still used for ostomy bags today.

Baby Bottles with Disposable Liners
Back in the 1940s, because plastic and glass bottles didn’t change shape as babies suckled them, a partial vacuum occurred, leading to babies ingesting more air. Adda May Allen invented a disposable, flexible plastic liner that would close in as the baby drank the milk, reducing the excess air. Playtex now mass-manufactures such bottles.

These five ideas reiterate nurses’ steadfast dedication to improving patient care. As we celebrate this week, give thanks to those tireless individuals proudly wearing their scrubs. Happy National Nurses Week! Who knows what innovations nurses will create in the next few years.


Created in coordination with 
Deborah Swanson, Content Coordinator,


CHIME15 Recap Part II: CNN’s Fareed Zakaria on Healthcare’s Political, Not IT Revolution

In part II of our CHIME15 Fall Forum recap, we focus on the message of Friday’s conference keynote speaker Fareed Zakaria. Zakaria is the host of CNN‘s Fareed Zakaria GPS, and he writes a weekly column for The Washington Post.

In our first CHIME15 recap, we highlighted that CHIME’s c-suite survey pointed to being able to elicit change as the most critical skill for today’s healthcare CIOs. However, in Zakaria’s speech, he seemed to emphasize this great responsibility of healthcare executives more so beyond IT fixes. According to Zakaria, information technology cannot be the magic bullet for America’s healthcare problems.

“I don’t mean to be the bearer of bad news,” Zakaria said. “What I mean is that you have a very complicated job ahead of you, which is the structure. In addition to that, you have a Democratic system, which makes it very hard to change the structure.”

According to Zakaria, healthcare isn’t going to operate like any other market because the fundamental structure raises difficulty in achieving certain economies of scale.

Zakaria said that the U.S. has hoped to find a technological fix all to magically get around issues. Instead, he said, “I think, more likely we’re going to have to do the hard work of unraveling the system that we have in place and figuring out how you actually make some hard political decisions that force you to choose, you know, when you’re 85 years, do you need a double hip replacement?”

The revolution needed here is not based on information, but a political revolution.

What are your thoughts in response to Zakaria’s message? Let us know!

Reflecting on the Today’s Value of HIT to Celebrate NHIT Week


As we renew the excitement of the 2013 National Health IT Week, members of the Stoltenberg Consulting team have joined together to ponder the value of HIT from the small scale of a personal physician’s appointment, to a wide view of the impact on nationwide healthcare progress.

“While National Health IT week continues, I think about the value of HIT and think back to the beginning of my career in HIT.  At that time there was not the focus on HIT that there is today, but we entered the marketplace with many of the same ideas and values that are being discussed today. As an RN, patient care and patient safety and quality of care have always been at the center. Today, as I consider the value of HIT, I look far beyond where I was once focused. Today, I think of improving quality, safety and efficiency of the system as a whole. We have the ability to use data in ways that where not possible just a few years ago. Today, I see a much bigger picture and a much closer future, in which HIT is a leader and driving force behind the changes and advances in healthcare as we move forward.”

-Daniel O’Connor, Vice President of Client Relations

“Healthcare IT (HIT) is helping to shape the healthcare landscape of today and of the future. Better outcomes and decreased costs is the mantra for healthcare today. HIT is the enabler for both of those mantras. Through the digitization of healthcare data, organizations now have the ability to aggregate that data with patient’s billing data and care outcomes allowing organizations to track costs and outcomes at the micro level.  This linking of data enables an organization to identify methods to decrease the cost of care while elevating the outcomes. This same healthcare data also enables an organization to track trends in population health. By using data and predictive analysis, healthcare organizations can become proactive in delivering healthcare allowing today’s landscape to evolve and continue to provide the greatest healthcare in the world.”

-Shane Pilcher, Vice President

“As a 25-year healthcare IT veteran,  I am happy to have personally witnessed the progress we have made in the maturity of EMRs over the past decades. I saw the direct impact in my own life when I recently went to a specialist physician’s office. In my appointment, my physician was able to electronically look up my medial history, confirm my medications, and confirm if this might have a contributing factor toward my condition. Much to my amazement, through electronic medical records, we were able to confirm some lab results from my primary physician,  which resulted in avoiding retesting, as well as direct time and money savings. It had me feeling that much of my career as a change agent has paid off!”

-Mike Meyer, Vice President of Strategic Accounts

“We hear a lot about reducing costs through health information technology, but the main value is improving quality of care for our patients.  Health Information Technology is a key proponent driving that change.  With the valued goal of increased quality care to our patients, other benefits are trickling down to organizations whom have adopted health information technology every day.”

-Mike Gielata, Director of Strategic Accounts

“As healthcare IT professionals we often forget about the benefit we provide to a patient’s care or outcome, because our “patient touch” is not often felt by the patient in a direct manner. Our passion for healthcare and IT makes us some of the most uniquely qualified people in the world. Never forget that what you do every day impacts someone who is hurt/sick, injured, recovering, or dying as well as their family.

CELEBRATE! You have the privilege of experiencing an important point in history, akin to the impact the Industrial Revolution had on America back in early 19th century. Will future scholars call it the “Healthcare Revolution” or the “Meaningful Use Revolution?” I don’t know, but I’m proud to be a part of it.

NHIT week was brought about by a proclamation by President Obama in 2011. President Obama stated, ‘Everyone can play a role in improving our health care system.’  As a healthcare IT professional, you’re in the trenches.”

 -Paula Ehmer, Director, Strategic Accounts

To read more about the President’s Proclamation visit

To learn ways to join the NHIT week social media endeavors, visit Finally, check out the agenda of activities for the rest of this week at

Now that we’ve considered our thoughts on the value of HIT, take the time to think about yours and engage with others during this exciting week. Thanks for all you do to personally impact HIT and happy NHIT Week 2013!