Measuring Communication in the Surgical ICU

Better Communication Equals Better Care

Mallory Williams, Nathanael Hevelone, Rodrigo F. Alban, James P. Hardy, David A. Oxman, Ed Garcia, Cristina Thorsen, Gyorgy Frendl, Selwyn O. Rogers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: The Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations reports that communication breakdowns are responsible for 85% of sentinel events in hospitals. Patients in surgical ICUs are the most vulnerable to communication errors. Fellows and residents are an integral part of the surgical ICU team, but little is known about resident-fellow communication and its impact on surgical ICU patient outcomes. The objective of this study is to describe resident-fellow patient care communication patterns in the surgical ICU and correlate established communication patterns with short-term outcomes. Study Design: A prospective observational trial was conducted for 136 consecutive surgical ICU days. We evaluated resident-fellow communication of four cardiorespiratory events: hypotension, new arrhythmias, tachypnea, and desaturation. We prospectively defined three short-term outcomes: improved, not improved, and worse. An intervention was attempted to improve communication. Results: Three hundred twelve events were collected (166 observational and 146 interventional). PGY3 residents covered approximately 60% of days in both phases. PGY3 residents were responsible for 73% of communication errors in the observational phase and 59% of communication errors in the interventional phase. Communication errors were more likely in the late shift (p < 0.0001). The late shift was responsible for 77% of all communication errors. Communication errors resulted in worse short-term outcomes for cardiorespiratory events (p < 0.0002). Effective communication was a significant predictor of improved short-term outcomes (p < 0.0003). The intervention decreased communication errors in the late shift by 10% (p < 0.052). Conclusions: Communication errors occurred more frequently during the late shift. These communication errors were associated with worsened short-term outcomes. Improved communication in the surgical ICU is a fruitful target to improve clinical outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-22
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American College of Surgeons
Volume210
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2010
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Communication
Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations
Tachypnea
Hypotension
Cardiac Arrhythmias
Patient Care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery

Cite this

Williams, M., Hevelone, N., Alban, R. F., Hardy, J. P., Oxman, D. A., Garcia, E., ... Rogers, S. O. (2010). Measuring Communication in the Surgical ICU: Better Communication Equals Better Care. Journal of the American College of Surgeons, 210(1), 17-22. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jamcollsurg.2009.09.025

Measuring Communication in the Surgical ICU : Better Communication Equals Better Care. / Williams, Mallory; Hevelone, Nathanael; Alban, Rodrigo F.; Hardy, James P.; Oxman, David A.; Garcia, Ed; Thorsen, Cristina; Frendl, Gyorgy; Rogers, Selwyn O.

In: Journal of the American College of Surgeons, Vol. 210, No. 1, 01.2010, p. 17-22.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Williams, M, Hevelone, N, Alban, RF, Hardy, JP, Oxman, DA, Garcia, E, Thorsen, C, Frendl, G & Rogers, SO 2010, 'Measuring Communication in the Surgical ICU: Better Communication Equals Better Care', Journal of the American College of Surgeons, vol. 210, no. 1, pp. 17-22. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jamcollsurg.2009.09.025
Williams, Mallory ; Hevelone, Nathanael ; Alban, Rodrigo F. ; Hardy, James P. ; Oxman, David A. ; Garcia, Ed ; Thorsen, Cristina ; Frendl, Gyorgy ; Rogers, Selwyn O. / Measuring Communication in the Surgical ICU : Better Communication Equals Better Care. In: Journal of the American College of Surgeons. 2010 ; Vol. 210, No. 1. pp. 17-22.
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abstract = "Background: The Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations reports that communication breakdowns are responsible for 85{\%} of sentinel events in hospitals. Patients in surgical ICUs are the most vulnerable to communication errors. Fellows and residents are an integral part of the surgical ICU team, but little is known about resident-fellow communication and its impact on surgical ICU patient outcomes. The objective of this study is to describe resident-fellow patient care communication patterns in the surgical ICU and correlate established communication patterns with short-term outcomes. Study Design: A prospective observational trial was conducted for 136 consecutive surgical ICU days. We evaluated resident-fellow communication of four cardiorespiratory events: hypotension, new arrhythmias, tachypnea, and desaturation. We prospectively defined three short-term outcomes: improved, not improved, and worse. An intervention was attempted to improve communication. Results: Three hundred twelve events were collected (166 observational and 146 interventional). PGY3 residents covered approximately 60{\%} of days in both phases. PGY3 residents were responsible for 73{\%} of communication errors in the observational phase and 59{\%} of communication errors in the interventional phase. Communication errors were more likely in the late shift (p < 0.0001). The late shift was responsible for 77{\%} of all communication errors. Communication errors resulted in worse short-term outcomes for cardiorespiratory events (p < 0.0002). Effective communication was a significant predictor of improved short-term outcomes (p < 0.0003). The intervention decreased communication errors in the late shift by 10{\%} (p < 0.052). Conclusions: Communication errors occurred more frequently during the late shift. These communication errors were associated with worsened short-term outcomes. Improved communication in the surgical ICU is a fruitful target to improve clinical outcomes.",
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