Lifelong call to nursing
Becky Benton, RN, believes that good things come to those who wait. She has known her entire life that she wanted to be a nurse. But she wasn’t able to fulfill that calling until after she raised a family.
“I've always liked to help people, even as a kid. I would always stand up for the underdog. If someone didn’t have any friends, I would be their friend — even if it meant other people didn’t like me. And I felt that nursing was a way to do that,” she said. “I've always wanted to be a nurse. I started nursing school out of high school, but then I got married and had kids, and I couldn’t work full-time. So, I put off finishing my degree until my kids grew up. I've been a nurse about five years now.”
Benton is a registered nurse in a medical-surgical telemetry department at Northern Regional Hospital in Mount Airy, North Carolina. She manages mostly adult patients with heart and respiratory conditions, such as congestive obstructive pulmonary disease, pneumonia, and various causes of chest pain.
Nurse’s “spider-sense” improves with digital stethoscope
Benton said she depends on several strategies and tools to care for her patient population.
“When I get a new patient, it’s important that I get a better understanding of what’s really going on with them. Even though I get a report from the emergency room or the doctor’s office, I want to get my own eyes on them and my own hands on them and see if there’s something that may be missing — something that I need to watch for over the course of my shift and their time on my unit,” she said. “Sometimes we get these patients who look good and sound good, but you just know something is wrong. We call it our nurse spider-sense.”
The ability to hear heart sounds, lung sounds, and bowel sounds is essential to assessing her patients. Although she wishes she had telemetry on every unit, it’s only available on certain floors. She has found that digital stethoscopes help fill that need.
She first heard about the technology in Eko Health’s advertisements. “I thought to myself, ‘Well, this is cool.’ I read a lot about it, and it was getting good reviews. So I saved up, and it was my Christmas present to myself.”
She purchased the 3M™ Littmann® CORE Digital Stethoscope. She said the stethoscope’s amplifier and noise-cancellation enhance her spider-sense. “It helps tenfold, listening and actually hearing the sounds that I need to hear. With the noise-canceling function, it overcomes background noise, especially when I’m working in one of our rooms right around the nurses’ station, which can be loud.”
Sound amplification is vital for assessing patients with obesity
Benton finds the Littmann® CORE to be particularly helpful for assessing the health of patients with large body habitus or larger breasts.
“Although they teach you the landmarks where you should place a traditional stethoscope [on the body] to get better sounds, you can’t use those on everybody. You have to move it around and find the good places, especially if they’re larger individuals,” she said. “Sometimes you have to ask your patient to sit up or roll over. But for your really sick patients, even the slightest movements may be hard for them.”
Benton finds that she has to move patients less often now that she uses the digital stethoscope. When Eko Health asked her to participate in a trial to test its newest technology — the Eko CORE 500™ Digital Stethoscope with TrueSound™ audio — she jumped at the chance.
TrueSound™ clarifies heart sounds, lung sounds, and more
The CORE 500™ continues to offer the sound amplification and noise cancellation that Benton has come to rely on. The new product also features Eko's newest audio innovation, TrueSound™. With in-ear speaker technology, TrueSound™ offers optimal sound filtering and reduced background noise to provide the most precise sound during every patient exam. In addition, the CORE 500™ has a full-color screen that displays auscultation data including real-time heart rate measurement and results from its three-lead electrocardiogram (ECG). When paired with Eko’s software, the stethoscope can leverage Eko’s FDA-cleared AI to flag arrhythmias, such as AFib, bradycardia, and tachycardia.
Although Benton expected the new stethoscope to be heavy and clunky because of all the additional features and display, she found it equally as comfortable and easy to use when it was around her neck. When the display showed a low battery, she took the device home to charge it. The battery lasted about a month of regular clinical use, approximately four shifts per week. Most importantly, it made a noticeable difference in patient care.
“There were a couple of times when I caught things with the CORE 500™ that could have been missed. Even though these patients were not on telemetry, I could see something was going on,” she said. For example, she has identified murmurs and abnormal rhythms when using the CORE 500™, prompting a call to get a 12-lead ECG. She noticed when a patient went into AFib without a history of AFib. On another occasion, she looked at the on-screen ECG tracing and detected an ST elevation indicating myocardial infarction.
“We were able to bring the doctor right in and get the patient a higher level of care. I could have missed those if I didn’t have that tracing right there at my fingertips,” Benton said. “Some people are leery about new technology. But don’t be leery about this. The CORE 500™ is an awesome tool that is going to enhance your ability to take care of your patients.”
In fact, she is saving up again and plans to purchase Eko’s latest stethoscope as another Christmas gift to herself — and her patients.
Learn how the Eko CORE 500™ can enhance your nursing assessments.
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