I Am Patient Safety 2018: Improving Diagnosis Award

Michelle Nelsen, RN
UPMC Hamot
I Am Patient Safety 2018 winner of the "Improving Diagnosis" award and recipient of the 2018 "Executive Director's Choice" award.

A patient was first seen in the emergency department (ED) for chest and arm pain. He was evaluated for cardiac issues but all tests came back negative. The patient saw his primary care provider the next day. Over the following weeks, he developed additional symptoms, and was seen by his primary care provider and in the ED multiple times. During another visit to the ED one month later, the patient's symptoms had progressed. Michelle Nelsen, his registered nurse (RN), suggested that he had an atypical presentation of a specific disease. She presented her thoughts to the ED physician, who ordered testing, which confirmed Michelle’s suspicion. The patient was then treated for this condition. The patient’s wife said, "If it were not for [Michelle], I do not think a diagnosis would have been found." Michelle, a senior nurse in the department, used her experience and expert assessment skills to drive the care of a patient. Her willingness to communicate with the ED team aided in the diagnosis that was long overdue for this patient. Her story is a prime example of why healthcare workers go to work every day—to help other people.

©2019 Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority