Victoria Brazil is a senior staff specialist at the Gold Coast University Hospital. She is a world-renowned expert in the role of simulation in medical education.
We all think we know the story of Humpty, don’t we? It’s the age-old tale of egg versus gravity that doesn’t end well for the egg*. But what if, Vic argues, the team sent to look after him had been trained not just in trauma management in isolation but as a team? Would things have fared any better? In her role as Medical Director of the Gold Coast Simulation Service, she has pioneered the use of team-based in-situ simulation to break down barriers to effective patient treatment. Watch her talk and see what you could bring to your department.
How do we, as healthcare professionals, work better together in a system that often seems overwhelmingly against us?
The Dual Role: Doing the Job and Making It Better
As healthcare professionals, we have a dual responsibility. Not only is it our duty to perform their job effectively, but it’s also our obligation to contribute to making the job better. This involves continuously seeking ways to improve patient care and outcomes.
A Case Study in Teamwork
To illustrate the concept of effective teamwork, Dr. Brazil presents a case study set in an emergency department. A ten-year-old patient had fallen off a skateboard and arrived in critical condition. Healthcare teams from various specialities were called in to provide care. Dr. Brazil described the scenario, highlighting the challenges and interactions within the team.
Analyzing the Team’s Performance
The case study raised questions about the team’s performance and opportunities for improvement. Despite a generally successful outcome, some team members felt things could have been better. What separates a good team from a great one? How can we, as individuals, foster teamwork?
Complexity in Healthcare
Modern healthcare is complex. With many professionals and specialities involved, the healthcare environment is intricate and challenging. Achieving effective teamwork is a continuous journey, but it can lead to significant improvements in patient care.
Strategies for Quality Improvement
Dr. Brazil outlined several strategies that healthcare teams can implement to drive quality improvement:
- Streamlined Communication: Sharing information effectively through methods like whiteboards and visual aids can improve team communication.
- Standardized Roles: Assigning clear roles and responsibilities to team members, including labelling attire, ensures everyone knows their position.
- Blood Administration: Ensuring rapid and safe blood administration by involving blood bank staff in simulations.
- Technology Integration: Implementing technology solutions, such as video links between departments, to enhance communication and coordination.
- Simulation and Debriefing: Regularly conducting simulations and debriefings to identify and address areas for improvement.
Leadership and Cultural Shift
Dr. Brazil stressed the importance of leadership in fostering a culture of continuous improvement within healthcare teams. By modelling leadership and creating an environment where team members feel safe to suggest improvements, healthcare organizations can drive cultural change.
Healthcare teams should function as semi-autonomous units with coordinated strategies and information flow rather than relying on a single team leader.
*Or is it? Humpty existed long before Charles Dodgson (or Lewis Carroll as he is better known) portrayed him as an anthropomorphic egg in Through the Looking Glass. The earliest known version was published almost 100 years earlier. But who, or what, was Humpty Dumpty? Was it a colloquial term for a short, round, clumsy person? Was it a thinly disguised reference to the hunchbacked Richard III, or was it, as residents of Colchester claim, actually a large, barely mobile cannon used as a siege engine? Alas, we will never know.