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Cath Lab Nurse Recognizes Hidden Symptoms - Saves a Veteran's Life

Brittany Corona, RN, Cath Lab recognized hidden symptoms of Veteran and saves her life.
Brittany Corona, RN, Dole VA Cath Lab

In the fast-paced environment of Dole VA’s Cath Lab — where urgency often rules — registered nurse Brittany Corona recently demonstrated exceptional vigilance and dedication that ultimately saved a Veteran’s life.

When a Veteran under her care appeared to be experiencing anxiety, Corona didn’t dismiss it as merely stress or nervousness. 

“I could tell something was wrong,” she said. “She was too young to have such a rapid heart rate without a pre-existing condition, plus she was short of breath and had started to experience chest pains.”

Corona sensed the patient was very nervous and just wanted to go home instead of investigating further. Despite the Veteran’s initial reluctance, Corona and fellow Cath Lab nurse Jennifer Graham persisted with great empathy and compassion. Finally, the patient relented and allowed herself to be taken to the Emergency Department.

“The Veteran said she felt a deep sense of impending doom,” Corona said. 

In medical terms, a sense of impending doom consists of an intense feeling that something life threatening or tragic is about to occur. This anxious feeling often precedes very serious physiological danger such as a heart attack or stroke.

Corona respected the patient’s gut feeling, and her prompt action saved the Veteran’s life. In the ED, the Veteran was diagnosed with a saddle pulmonary embolism, a critical condition that could have been fatal without timely intervention. 

Corona said, “if the patient been allowed to ignore her fears and return home instead of being checked by ED personnel, the story would have ended much differently. If we had let the Veteran leave, I am sure she would have died that night.”