Building Understanding Through Bedside Hearts

Understanding a child's congenital heart defect can be challenging for families. To aid teaching and understanding, the Children's Health℠ CICU team created Bedside Hearts -- a tool that provides illustrations of a child's anatomy before and after their intervention. Results have been encouraging: families now request the illustrations and 70% of surveyed clinicians said that Bedside Hearts helped or changed their practice. 

Learn more about Bedside Hearts.


  • The survival rate for congenital heart patients has increased significantly due to advances in cardiac intensive care and cardiac surgery/interventions (Jenkins & Larsen, 2016).
  • The CICU team recognized that congenital heart disease (CHD) education at the bedside can be challenging in a high acuity setting. 
  • Bedside Hearts was developed to resource clinicians in a fast-paced environment.
  • This tool provides an illustration of the patient’s cardiac anatomy before and after intervention.
  • The diagrams are utilized to support CHD education for direct care providers and families.
  • Per the Nottingham Model, accepted health care practices must be challenged in order to develop innovative skills and knowledge to support and develop pediatric practitioners (Smith, 1995).

Lead By

  • Lindsey Daigle, BSN, RN
  • Susi Hupp, MD, MSCR
  • NaShawn Finley, MBA-HM, BSN, RN, CCRN-K


Provide a resource diagram tool that is readily available for bedside clinicians to further develop their knowledge of congenital heart defects.


  • A RN Team leader was assigned to the project and prepared a diagram for each patient.
  • The diagrams are placed at each patient’s bedside and readily available for teaching.
  • The project began with a few simpler cardiac defects pre-operatively. 
  • The congenital heart diagram is placed at each patient’s bedside upon admission.
  • The bedside nurse reviews the diagram and will seek out resources for further clarification.
  • We expanded on the project to include post-surgical or post intervention hearts.
  • Post-procedure, the diagram is updated with the repair changes.


  • The Bedside Heart tool is utilized by clinical staff and has increased real time teaching.
  • Families request these diagrams to increase their own knowledge on their child’s defect. Therefore, the diagrams promote family-centered care.
  • The RN Team Leader has created a nurse-led work group to support the increase demand for all patients to have bedside heart diagrams.
  • A post project survey was conducted. Results demonstrated that 70% of bedside clinicians voiced that bedside hearts helped or changed their practice. (See Figure 1)


  • Bedside heart diagrams have improved cardiac defect education and supports direct care providers to confidently teach congenital heart defects that are individualized to each patient.
  • Families are intrigued by the visual diagrams and prompted to ask more specific questions about the patient’s anatomy and diagnosis.
  • The diagrams follow the patients throughout their hospital stay. Therefore, the educational process is ongoing.
  • Bedside Hearts are migrating outside of the CICU to overflow areas such as the NICU.
  • Bedside Hearts have promoted individualized treatment plans.


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