Medical Improv Activity for Enhancing Root Cause Analyses

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As this experiential teaching method grows in popularity, I’m getting more feedback and experience teaching with it.  This video, originally part of a grass roots effort to address interruptions about shows the activity (“Overload”*) and is proving to be even more valuable than I originally thought.

Having recently provided a closing keynote for risk management professionals that included this activity, I can share this feedback that might inspire you use to it in your RCA efforts:

  • Now I understand why nurses and others make mistakes.
  • I noticed myself tuning out the tasks that were harder for me and focusing on what felt easier.
  • I thought I was doing it correctly until we debriefed and my colleagues told me that I made some big mistakes!
  • You could see her stress level rising in a matter of seconds.

Once you understand how to do the activity, consider using it in a team meeting to prepare for a particular investigation or to evaluate your current RCA process. Keep in mind that the underlying causes of sentinel events are stubbornly associated with human factors, communication, and leadership! Therefore, finding ways to develop, discuss, and model effective interpersonal skills is paramount. Here are some objectives that might be helpful in framing the activity:

  • To raise awareness about your own and others’ stress response.
  • To create opportunities to discuss the need for and then practice essential communication skills such as; setting limits, and asking for help.
  • To increase understanding about the impact of cognitive stacking on our ability to concentrate.
  • To promote empathy for colleagues who are experiencing stress and compare and contrast this with judgments we might tend to make in bullying or blaming culture.

*You can find out more about this by watching the video and I do go into more detail about facilitating it in my book, Medical Improv:  A New Way to Improve Communication (With 15 Activities You Can Use STAT!).If you try it, let us know how it goes.  You and your team may discover even more benefits!

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2 Responses to Medical Improv Activity for Enhancing Root Cause Analyses

  1. Martine says:

    Beth, your work is so important. It gets to the root of sentinel events and offers valuable strategies to improve communication, increase empathy and respect, and so much more. This addresses patient safety in a way that is sophisticated and intelligent. I hope all healthcare providers read this and read your new invaluable book, Medical Improv: A New Way to Improve Communication. It all leads to patient safety, and more satisfying workplace relationships.

    • Thank you, Martine. I so appreciate your feedback and helping spread the word. I was surprised at how willing the risk managers were to look at errors through this lens….and because, I think, they really really really want to help make care safer and more compassionate.

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