How staff debriefing can improve patient outcomes
Thursday, July 18, 2019
As a healthcare administrator, you know the importance of psychological debriefing for your doctors and nurses after an adverse event. Still, are you making sure staff debriefing is being used as expansively and effectively as it can be?
Research shows that targeted debriefing can improve many diverse aspects of your staff's efficiency. As a result, your patients do better. Employ these science-driven strategies to help meet your most important objectives.
Debrief after every CPR event.
A study from Children's Hospital of Philadelphia found that an informational debrief following emergency treatment of children who suffered cardiac arrest in the hospital subsequently improved healthcare workers' CPR performance and increased the survival rate of patients.
What's more, asking your staff to review the practices they used lets you check for compliance and serves as a teachable moment when medical students or residents are included in the discussion. And of course, you want to make sure your staff is feeling OK emotionally after any form of trauma-related treatment event.
Check in with your critical care nurses often.
Research from the American Association of Critical Care Nurses found that debriefing can help identify those nurses who are working post-code and may be experiencing problematic stress because of a patient death.
Your debriefing should include asking nurses specifically about whether they are using denial, distraction or disengagement to cope; if so, staff counselors can help them find more productive ways to deal with traumatic experiences, avoid burnout, and provide better care overall.
Debrief to prevent "never events."
The Mayo Clinic reports that major surgical events that should never happen — such as leaving surgical tools inside a patient — do occur, at the rate of 69 incidents per 1.5 million invasive procedures. A full debriefing in the ER post-procedure can stop this kind problem from ever happening on your watch.
Make sure that safety checklists are always followed; that staff members communicate and confirm information about how the procedure was carried out verbally; and that you are alerted to any problems or issues are immediately.
Observe your staff for signs of potential issues.
Walk your wards daily to see if any staff members look overwhelmed, exhausted, or simply aren't paying close enough attention to patient care. Pull anyone aside who you feel might need a debrief to finish a shift safely and send them for it on the spot — make sure you have counseling and/or quality control personnel available immediately if this need arises.
Keep your door open.
Let your staff know that they can come to you without fear of reprisal or judgment if they need debriefing for any reason. It's a sign of strength to realize you need to act to improve your emotional health or job performance. Your staff will get the help they need and feel supported by you.
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