Teamwork plays a very important role in making healthcare safer. Organizations such as the Canadian Patient Safety Institute and Institute for Healthcare Improvement, for example, suggest that healthcare teams are more likely to achieve cohesion and shared decision-making by working toward a common goal–optimal and safe patient care–regardless of speciality or area of expertise.
At Royal Columbian Hospital (RCH) in New Westminster, a new collaborative team approach has reduced iatrogenic injuries to neonates (babies up to 28 days old) by 30%. The idea of cross-department team meetings began four years ago when Queenie Lai, Clinical Program Manager, saw an increase in safety events in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) that had originated in the Laboratory and Pharmacy.
“The whole situation was causing a lot of conflict,” says Queenie. “When we requested additional blood work for our babies, there would be delays and we didn’t know why. We also noticed the increased number of Pharmacy errors. We decided early on that we needed to collaborate with Lab and Pharmacy and work with them to make improvements.”
Queenie says blood work for babies in the NICU is crucial. If a NICU baby experiences more than 10% blood loss a transfusion may be needed, and such a procedure poses greater risks to very small, sick babies. “Working with Lab collaboratively, we created a tracking system for babies’ blood loss due to blood sampling. Looking back now, I would say it was difficult for our areas to work together at first because our specialities are so different, but now we have a very good working relationship with Lab and Pharmacy.”
Monthly meetings with the NICU, Laboratory and Pharmacy are ongoing, resulting in continuous information sharing among all the specialities and a steady decline in the number of patient safety events in the NICU. “Ultimately, our goal was to work together and learn from each other’s expertise,” says Queenie. “I can honestly say that this model has worked very well and our patients are receiving better and safer care.”
Congratulations to the NICU, Laboratory and Pharmacy teams at RCH!
Queenie Lai has been Clinical Program Manager for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Royal Columbian Hospital for the past four years. She plans to take her collaborative team approach to Burnaby General Hospital. For more information, you can contact Queenie by email email@example.com
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