Business and Management INK

Pass Incomplete — How to Keep Healthcare Clinicians from Dropping the Ball

January 9, 2024 6

In this article, Melanie Barlow explores the importance of training healthcare clinicians to appropriately respond to potential errors in care and the effects of failing to do so. Barlow discusses this topic, alongside collaborators Bernadette Watson, Elizabeth Jones, Kate Morse, Fiona Maccallum, and Jenny Rudolph. in “Building a Workplace-Based Learning Culture: The “Receiver’s” Perspective on Speaking Up,” a recently published article in The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science.

Imagine in a game of American football if the quarterback threw the ball for the final play of the match and the wide receiver — instead of taking the catch — stands still and watches it fly past them over the sideline. If you were to keep sending the ball and your teammate rarely caught it, or caught it and threw it hard back into your face, of course you are going to stop throwing the ball to them! The end result, everyone feels disheartened because you routinely lose the play and often the match.

Well, in healthcare speaking up, we teach clinicians how to throw the ball (how to speak up about a potential error in care, or have a safety concern), but overwhelmingly fail to teach them how to catch it (receive the message and respond). As a result, voiced concerns are often missed, misunderstood, ignored, or receivers don’t know how to manage their emotions, so they get defensive about someone potentially pointing out an error and rudely respond (throw the ball back hard). The frequent end result, we lose the match as patients get physically harmed, whilst clinicians get psychologically stressed.

As a registered nurse I have had to speak up for patient safety innumerable times, however on one occasion the ball was thrown exceptionally hard back at me and we absolutely lost the match, a patient was harmed. Later in my career as an educator developing a speaking up program, I thought, right! Let’s train the receiver.

How do I do that? At the time, there was not a single paper within the healthcare literature that had studied receiver behavior within speaking-up interactions. Well, if no one else has researched this, then I need to. Six and half years and three research studies later, there are clear patterns as to what influences speaking up message reception and response. Hierarchy, professional identity (clinical discipline), context (who else is present) and how the message is delivered all are of influence. Results help clarify that how we currently teach clinicians to speak up via standardized mnemonics is just not cutting it. The standardized wording does not account for context or professional identity, key influences on the receiver. It is like throwing the ball the exact same way (strength, direction) to someone who is standing still vs running or jumping in the air or actively being tackled. The receiver is going to have a hard time catching the ball!

This paper is a qualitative element to one of the three receiver-focused studies. The goal is that this collective work will inform how to start training our clinicians to be more proficient in catching the ball.

Melanie Barlow (pictured) is the senior lecturer and academic lead of specialized learning environments and simulation at Australian Catholic University. She is a registered nurse with a passion for improving healthcare communication. Bernadette Watson is an honorary professor in the school of psychology at The University of Queensland, Australia. She is an expert in many areas, including quality of care and communication, doctor-patient relationships, communication in medicine, and health communication. She is a qualified researcher with a large plethora of published academic articles. Elizabeth Jones is the current head of the department of psychology at Monash University Malaysia. She has worked in the psychology field for over 30 years and has expertise in social and organization psychology. As a researcher, she is interested in health service delivery, professional-patient communication, and organizational and health communication. Kate J. Morse is the assistant dean for experiential learning and innovation and an associate clinical professor in the College of Nursing and Health Professions at Drexel University. Morse worked as a nurse practitioner for over 23 years and now focuses on "simulated patients." Fiona Maccallum is a senior lecturer in clinical psychology in the school of psychology at The University of Queensland, Australia. As a researcher, she has specific interests in grief and loss, trauma emotion regulation, and anxiety. Her specific work is mechanism focused, and she has amassed a journal article catalog of over 45 entries. Jenny Rudolph is the senior director of innovation at the Center for Medical Simulation. She has a PhD in organizational behavior from Boston College and has specific interests in healthcare education and collaboration at point of care.

View all posts by Melanie Barlow, Bernadette Watson, Elizabeth Jones, Kate J. Morse, Fiona Maccallum, and Jenny Rudolph

Related Articles

The Complexities of Making Key Career Decisions
Business and Management INK
February 27, 2024

The Complexities of Making Key Career Decisions

Read Now
Revolutionizing Management Research with Immersive Research Methods
Business and Management INK
February 26, 2024

Revolutionizing Management Research with Immersive Research Methods

Read Now
Good Governance, Strong Trust: Building Community Among an Australian City Rebuilding Project
Business and Management INK
February 8, 2024

Good Governance, Strong Trust: Building Community Among an Australian City Rebuilding Project

Read Now
A Black History Addendum to the American Music Industry
Insights
February 6, 2024

A Black History Addendum to the American Music Industry

Read Now
Organizational Learning in Remote Teams: Harnessing the Power of Games for Meaningful Online Exchanges

Organizational Learning in Remote Teams: Harnessing the Power of Games for Meaningful Online Exchanges

Could we make workplace online exchanges more meaningful, especially in the early weeks of global lockdowns when we still lacked the protocols for online interaction? This was the question the authors set out to investigate.

Read Now
Environmental and Social Sustainability Methods in Online and In-Person Shopping

Environmental and Social Sustainability Methods in Online and In-Person Shopping

Service firms are increasingly trying to make their offers more sustainable, but does the same solution work the same way both online and offline? And does it matter if the focus is on environmental or social sustainability?

Read Now
Revitalizing Entrepreneurship to Benefit Low-Income Communities

Revitalizing Entrepreneurship to Benefit Low-Income Communities

While entrepreneurship scholarship increasingly illustrates the limits of an individualized approach in commercial businesses, this thinking has not yet filtered through to how we strategize entrepreneurship in low income-areas.

Read Now
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments