Cracking the Clues in the PICU

What do button battery ingestion, mucormycosis and pulmonary embolism have in common? All three are life-threatening conditions that are managed in pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) settings. Beth Wathen, Children’s Hospital, Aurora, Colorado, says the prevalence of these three conditions is on the rise.

While PICU nurses’ frequent exposure to critical illnesses such as ARDs and sepsis facilitates early recognition and appropriate treatment, these three disorders occur less often and may be harder to identify. In addition, button battery ingestion, mucormycosis and pulmonary embolism present with a wide array of symptoms that can mimic other conditions. Wathen says, “All three of these represent life-threatening conditions with significant morbidity and mortality, so it is critically important for nurses to be able to recognize these conditions and understand priorities for treatment.”

In an interactive session, “Challenging Pediatric Case Studies: Deciphering the Clues,” on Tuesday, 4:15-5:30 p.m., and Wednesday 1-2:15 p.m., in room 332A, Wathen will use a case study approach to demonstrate the process by which these less common disorders are recognized. Nursing management to facilitate prompt treatment will also be described in each of the case studies. This session is a unique opportunity to gain exposure to infrequent but high-risk patient care situations. Applying the lessons of Wathen’s cases to real-life pediatric patients could profoundly improve patient outcomes.