Ebola: Keeping Perspective

Our NursingCenter team has been following the Ebola outbreak closely over the past months, but with recent developments of disease transmission here in the United States, media coverage has increased and protocols and recommendations are being closely examined. As nurses, we play an important role in patient and public education, and it is important that we continue to act with compassion and skill while gathering our knowledge from reputable sources and keeping recent developments in perspective.

Nina and Amber
My thanks and best wishes for a quick recovery go out to Nina Pham and Amber Vinson, two nurses who contracted the Ebola virus while caring for Thomas Eric Duncan, the infected patient who died on Oct. 8, 2014.  I commend your dedication and compassion. I am proud of you.

Nurses and other healthcare providers
To those of you caring for Nina and Amber, those already in or heading to West Africa to help with the outbreak there, and those studying current guidelines and possible systems issues, thank you. I am confident that your hard work will make a difference here and abroad, and that best practices for the safety of patients, healthcare providers, and the public is the priority. 

Stay informed
As a nurse, I will continue to look to professional organizations for the latest information and guidance. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a long list of guidelines and checklists for U.S. health professionals. The Global Alert and Response of the World Health Organization includes up-to-date news and facts, frequently asked questions, and preparedness guidance. The National Institutes of Health also lists facts about the virus as well as the latest developments of research on prevention, treatment, and detection. 

I encourage you all to stay up-to-date and share your knowledge with your patients and the public. Refer to the sites above or to our Ebola page on NursingCenter (which we update daily with information from the above sites). Our colleagues at the American Journal of Nursing have also shared valuable insights from a nurse epidemiologist, who addresses the concerns surrounding personal protective equipment, and a nurse informaticist, who looks at the role of electronic health records in handling the Ebola outbreak.

Moving forward
I had the pleasure of spending the past week at Nursing Management Congress and was in the company of over 800 nurse leaders from around the country as the news of Ebola virus transmission in the U.S. unfolded. Themes from the general sessions included a focus on restoring pride in nursing, believing in team members, and dealing with root causes instead of putting out fires. I think these themes are appropriate as we face this new challenge in healthcare. 

Posted: 10/14/2014 1:22:23 PM by Lisa Bonsall, MSN, RN, CRNP | with 0 comments

Categories: Diseases & Conditions

Enterovirus D68

In the Midwest,  an enterovirus, known as EV-D68, is causing concern. While not a new virus, EV-D68 has recently caused severe respiratory symptoms in affected children in Missouri, and several other states have contacted the CDC for assistance with a possible regional outbreak as well. These are Colorado, North Carolina, Georgia, Ohio, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Kentucky. Symptoms of a common cold are typical at the onset of EV-D68, however the development of fever, rash, or dyspnea – particularly in children with asthma – is occurring and necessitating hospitalization, and in some instances, ICU admission. 

While details continue to be released, please remember your role in patient education and infection control. Tell parents and caregivers about these symptoms of EV-D68 and advise them to seek care for their child if fever, rash, or breathing difficulties develop. Also, share these basics of infection control:

  • avoiding close contact with people who have respiratory symptoms, such as coughing or sneezing
  • staying home when sick
  • washing hands often with soap and water for 15 to 20 seconds or using alcohol-based hand cleansers 
  • not touching eyes, nose, or mouth 
  • keeping surfaces and objects (especially tables, counters, doorknobs, and toys) that can be exposed to a virus clean
  • practicing other good health habits, including getting plenty of sleep, staying active, drinking plenty of fluids, and eating healthy foods

As more details are released, we’ll be sure to keep you informed! 

Update 9/16/14 - More states have reported EV-D68 infections. Please visit our page on this topic for more information and resources!


Bonsall, L. (2009). Be prepared for H1N1 flu. Nursing Made Incredibly Easy!, 7(6).


Posted: 9/8/2014 1:37:31 PM by Lisa Bonsall, MSN, RN, CRNP | with 1 comments

Categories: Diseases & Conditions

Take a look inside our collection of stroke resources

Caring for patients with stroke can be challenging; when a stroke is occurring, it is imperative to distinguish the symptoms from other diagnoses. Determining the type and location of stroke is yet another difficulty. Further challenges are met with treatment and rehabilitation. 

To help you manage these complex issues, we’ve created a Focus On: Stroke collection, which is comprised of journal content, as well as the following special features:

Each item in this collection is only $1.99, or you can purchase the entire collection together with the Powerpoint slides, podcasts, and the Take5 for only $19.99 (doesn’t include CE).  

I hope you’ll take some time to explore this collection! Have a question or comment? Please feel free to connect with me here on the blog by leaving a comment or you can email me at clinicaleditor@nursingcenter.com.  

Posted: 3/6/2014 1:35:56 PM by Lisa Bonsall, MSN, RN, CRNP | with 0 comments

Categories: Diseases & Conditions

New nursing tip!

I just learned this one this morning while reading Puzzling out SIADH in the November/December 2013 issue of Nursing Made Incredibly Easy!

To remember the early signs of syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone (SIADH), think FLAT:





Here are more nursing tips, and some other mnemonics and "memory joggers" that you might find useful.


Pullen, R. (2013). Puzzling out SIADHNursing Made Incredibly Easy!, 11(6)

Posted: 11/20/2013 3:24:34 AM by Lisa Bonsall, MSN, RN, CRNP | with 1 comments

Categories: Diseases & Conditions

Mental Illness: ESCAPE

I just learned the mnemonic below while reading Caring for a patient with mental illness in the acute care setting (Nursing Made Incredibly Easy!, May/June 2013). Remember the word ESCAPE to help you care for a patient with a mental disorder in an acute care setting.

E = Early assessment

S = Symptom identification

C = Choose communication techniques based on symptoms found

A = Assess for history of prior effective treatment

P = Psychiatric medication regime reconciliation and maintenance

E = Eliminate or decrease stressors

For more mnemonics, check out previous blog posts here and here. Have one to share? Please do!

Ahern, J. & Kumar, C. (2013). Caring for a patient with mental illness in the acute care settingNursing Made Incredibly Easy!, 11(3).

Posted: 6/8/2013 3:28:02 AM by Lisa Bonsall, MSN, RN, CRNP | with 1 comments

Categories: Diseases & Conditions

Fighting the Obesity Epidemic

In 2010, more than one-third of adults in the United States were obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

It’s safe to call the issue of obesity an epidemic at this point, and it can lead to other complications like heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, stroke and certain types of cancer. The health problems caused by obesity are some of the leading causes of preventable death.

A new infographic from Nursing@Georgetown outlines some important statistics about this issue, aimed at increasing awareness and educating the public about the positive effects of a proper diet and exercise.

Things like eating whole grains, switching to low-fat milk, and increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables can help turn things around and lead to a healthier body. In addition, the USDA has developed a nutrition guide called MyPlate that outlines recommended food portions.

Exercise also helps, and all adults should set a long-term goal to accumulate at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days. Check out the infographic below for information, and ways we can all work to improve our health behaviors.

Obesity in the U.S.: Fighting the Epidemic with Proper Diet & Exercise

Via Nursing License Map and Nursing@Georgetown

This post is written by Erica Moss, who is the community manager for the online nursing programs at Georgetown University School of Nursing & Health Studies.

Posted: 3/11/2013 1:44:17 PM by Lisa Bonsall, MSN, RN, CRNP | with 0 comments

Categories: Diseases & Conditions

H's and T's

I’m drawn to articles that offer tips, top ten lists, mnemonics, and quick-reads to make our days and lives as nurses run smoother. That’s why I’m happy to share that we’ve just added a new article to our Recommended Reading list with not one, but two handy mnemonic devices! Plus, the topic is ECG interpretation and you may recall that one of my most memorable days as a nurse began with analysis of a Six-Second Strip

Please allow me to share one of these clever mnemonics with you here (you can click through to the article to learn the other – enjoy free online access while it’s on our recommended reading list). 

So, what are the H’s and T’s referred to in the title of this post? They are the reversible causes of cardiac arrest, which include:

* Hypovolemia

* Hypoxia

* Hydrogen ion (acidosis)

* Hypo- or hyperkalemia

* Hypothermia

* Tension pneumothorax

* Tamponade, cardiac

* Toxins

* Thrombosis, pulmonary

* Thrombosis, coronary

Do you have any similar mnemonic devices to share? Let’s help one another to remember all that is nursing and healthcare!


Craig, K., (2013). Heart Beats: Rhythm self-quiz: Fast and deadly. Nursing2013 Critical Care, 8(1).

Posted: 1/31/2013 6:36:36 AM by Lisa Bonsall, MSN, RN, CRNP | with 0 comments

Categories: Diseases & Conditions

Flu Panic

I’m a bit ashamed to be admitting this to a group of nurses, but I figure that if I shame myself enough maybe I won’t let this happen again. Ok, here it is…I didn’t get a flu shot. There, I said it. No reason, really, I just got busy and it kept getting pushed to the bottom of my to-do list. My husband got his at work, I took the kids for theirs, but mine – I just never got around to it. I am embarrassed and yes, more than a little nervous about getting sick. 

I’ve been reading a ton about this year’s influenza viruses "taking the U.S. by storm." I get emails from the CDC with the latest numbers and maps showing flu activity around the country. Our Nursing News page has links to updates and articles about this year’s virus. Our twitter timeline and facebook newsfeed also contain quite a bit of flu-related news, opinions, and personal stories these days. 

Not only am I “virtually” surrounded by the virus, but my kids come home from school each day with a report of who was absent, or more concerning, who was sick at school. My husband returns from his work as a respiratory therapist with a flu update from the hospital floors. And of course, I’m aware of every sniffle and sneeze around me when I’m out. 

My plan, which has been working well so far, consists of the usual recommended practices: frequent handwashing, not touching my face, getting enough rest and eating well, and doing my best to avoid those who are sick. However, while I’ve dodged illness thus far this flu season, I will surely be calling my nurse practitioner this week to schedule my vaccination! 

Any other advice? 

Posted: 1/20/2013 6:41:37 AM by Lisa Bonsall, MSN, RN, CRNP | with 0 comments

Categories: Diseases & Conditions

Lab Values and DKA

Changes in laboratory values often give us clues to what is happening with our patients. I came across the following resource this morning and thought it was worth sharing. Here’s a handy table to help you identify diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).

The following equation can be used to calculate an anion gap:

Anion gap = Na+(mEq/L) – [Cl-(mEq/L) + HCO3-(mEq/L)] 

You have an important role when caring for a patient with DKA.  Thorough physical assessments, careful monitoring of laboratory values, and critical thinking are essential to avoid complications of this complex disorder. Have you cared for a patient with DKA? What are the common presenting signs and symptoms?

Donahey, E., Folse, S., Weant, K. (2012). Management of Diabetic Ketoacidosis. Advanced Emergency Nursing Journal, 34(3).

Posted: 8/15/2012 3:33:22 AM by Lisa Bonsall, MSN, RN, CRNP | with 0 comments

Categories: Diseases & Conditions

Spotlight on Men’s Health

More than half of all premature deaths among men are preventable.

We’ll let that sink in for a moment. Pretty shocking, right? The topic of men’s health finds itself front and center during Men’s Health Month every June, but the conversation quickly fades in the months thereafter.

A new infographic from Nursing@Georgetown shines a spotlight on the current state of men’s health in the U.S., aimed at increasing awareness of preventable health problems and encouraging early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys. A few more statistics:

  • 60% of men aged 50 or older were not screened for colon cancer in the past year.
  • 7 million American men haven’t seen a doctor in more than 10 years.
  • 67% of men wouldn’t go to the doctor when experiencing chest pain or shortness of breath — two early warning signs of a heart attack. 

But it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. By raising awareness, advancing health education and recognizing culturally influenced behaviors, each of us can help improve men’s health. Check out the infographic below for tips on when and how often men should be tested for certain health issues.

Men's Health Infographic


Via Nurse Practitioner Programs and Nursing License Map

This post is written by Erica Moss, who is the community manager for the online masters in nursing program at Georgetown University.

Posted: 8/13/2012 1:49:01 PM by Lisa Bonsall, MSN, RN, CRNP | with 3 comments

Categories: Diseases & Conditions

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