This is a truly great story. I found this in the web – it is from Chip and Dan Heat’s great book “Sticky Ideas” – have a read:

The nurse was working in the neonatal intensive-care unit… She’d been watching one baby in particular for several hours … His color, a key indicator of potential problems, had been fluctuating-wavering between a healthy shade of pink and a duller, more troublesome hue. Suddenly, within a matter of seconds, the baby turned a deep blue-black. The nurse’s stomach fell. Others in the ICU yelled for an X-ray technician and a doctor.

The gathering medical team was operating on the assumption that the baby’s lung had collapsed – a common problem for babies on ventilators. The team prepared for the typical response to a collapsed lung, which involves piercing the chest and inserting a tube to suck the air from around the collapsed lung, allowing it to re-inflate.

But the nurse thought it was a heart problem. As soon as she saw the baby’s color-that awful blue-black-she suspected a pneumopericardium, a condition in which air fills the sac surrounding the heart, pressing inward and preventing the heart from beating. The nurse was terrified, because the last time she witnessed a pneumopericardium the baby died before the problem could even be diagnosed.

The nurse tried to stop the frantic preparations to treat the lung. It’ s the heart!” she said. But in response, the other medical personnel pointed to the heart monitor, which showed that the baby’s heart was fine; his heart rate was bouncing along steadily, at the newborn rate of 130 beats per minute. The nurse, still insistent, pushed their hands away and screamed for quiet as she lowered a stethoscope to check for a heartbeat.

There was no sound-the heart was not beating.

She started doing compressions on the baby’s chest. The chief neonatologist burst into the room and the nurse slapped a syringe in his hand. “It’s pneumopericardium,” she said. “Stick the heart.” The neonatologist guided the syringe into the heart and slowly released the air that had been strangling the baby’s heart. The baby’s life was saved. His color slowly returned to normal.

Later, the group realized why the heart monitor misled them. It is designed to measure electrical activity, not actual heartbeats. The baby’s heart nerves were firing-telling the heart to beat at the appropriate rate-but the air in the sac around the heart prevented the heart from actually beating.


>>> What does this story contain? WISDOM (trust your gut feeling), EXPERIENCE (machines are not always right) AND THE MOTIVATION TO ACT (oppose if you know better).