Jacqueline Vance, RN

I recently read an article in Medscape for Nurses about all this really cool stuff nurses invented.  Of course, as the article points out, the nurses didn’t get credit for inventing them. More like got pats on the heads for coming up with a “work-around” or a “creative solution.” Then, while sharing with other nurses what the “creative solution” is, it goes “viral” and someone else slaps a patent on it and becomes the financial victor. 

Guess who really invented neonatal phototherapy? This treatment for newborn babies was invented in the 1950s by a clever nurse named Sister Jean Ward who was in charge of the Premature Unit at Rochford General Hospital in Essex, England.

She realized that sunlight reduced jaundice in newborns and premature infants. That discovery that led to phototherapy, which probably is the most common clinical treatment applied to newborn infants.

Did you know that it was a nurse who invented the disposable baby bottle? A nurse named Adda M. Allen invented a baby bottle with a disposable collapsible liner to minimize the ingestion of air during feeding years before baby bottles came with inner plastic bags to hold the formula/milk, which made it easier for the babies to suck the formula and with less spitting up and gastric upset.

The bottles were tested on infants at George Washington University Hospital and later were mass-produced by Playtex. There is no documentation as to whether or not nurse Allen was paid for her original design.

You certainly should not be surprised that it was a nurse who invented the ostomy bag. I mean, if you’re the one expected to clean up the “stuff” that comes out of an uncovered stoma, you’re probably the one who will come up with the fix.

Sadly, after colostomy surgeries, patients were sent home to care for themselves, and most became hermits. There was no way to contain the feces practically so these patients became social outcasts. But in 1953, a patient in Denmark who had a sister who was a nurse had a colostomy. Nurse Elise Sorenson developed the prototype of the bags used today and her sister was able to lead an active life.

Pretty much every single hospital and long-term care setting has a crash cart right? Well, did you know that in the 1960s, nurse Anita Dorr got tired of the practice of stuffing emergency supplies in her pockets and grabbing equipment while running down the hall to help during a cardiac arrest (as was the standard practice at the time).

So she had her husband build a cart, painted it red, and she brought it into the hospital and stocked it with all the emergency equipment one would need for an arrest. How innovative is that?

Sanitary napkins? A nurse. The baby Snugli? A nurse. A new self-containing disposable isolation gown designed with a patented interior wrapper? A nurse. Nurses are just awesome if you ask me!

So, super nurses/inventors everywhere: Can you invent something that can help us hold our bladders for 12 hours and not feel hunger for the same? I’m just asking.

Just keeping it real!

Nurse Jackie

The Real Nurse Jackie is written by Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC, a 2012 APEX Award of Excellence winner for Blog Writing. Vance is a real life long-term care nurse. A nationally respected nurse educator and past national LTC Nurse Administrator of the Year, she also is an accomplished stand-up comedienne. She has not starred in her own national television series — yet. The opinions supplied here are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her employer or her professional affiliates.