Nurses and most of the general public know that Florence Nightingale is known as the Lady with the Lamp. But did you realize that she could also be called the Lady with the Pie Chart? She was known for her mathematical genius and use of statistics. She transformed those numbers from boring, meaningless tables to colorful diagrams and was able to demonstrate that more British soldiers were dying from disease than battlefield wounds. Click here to see some of her work.
While we celebrate her work and her birthday on May 12, we can still learn from her example. Notice that she is collecting and using her own internal data. She did not use data from the American Revolution or the War of 1812, but data from the hospital in Scutari during the Crimean War. Can you just image the backlash from those British army generals if she has used data from other wars? I can hear comments like a different war, a different climate, different continent, different types of guns, etc.
Translate this to your current situation and it is really not that much different. Data from your facility on infusion-related outcomes such as complication rates, productivity and workload, and medication errors will be stronger than data from outside. Data from published studies are beneficial for benchmarking – are we better or worse than what is published? You will not know the answer unless you collect and analyze your own statistics. Internal data is about your patient population, skills and issues with your staff, and deficits or achievements in your own processes.
Unlike Miss Nightingale, we now have computers, Excel and PowerPoint to enliven our data. Just imagine what she could have accomplished with our present data tools. The sky is the limit for what we can achieve as nurses inserting and managing vascular access devices and delivering infusion therapies!
Happy Birthday, Miss Nightingale and thanks for your legacy!
Author: Lynn Hadaway
Lynn Hadaway has more than 35 years experience in infusion nursing and adult education. Her experience comes from multiple acute care settings, healthcare manufacturing, continuing professional education.