Background Safe and effective healthcare is frustrated by failures in communication. Repeating back important information (read-back) is thought to enhance the effectiveness of communication across many industries. However, formal communication protocols are uncommon in healthcare teams.
Aims We aimed to quantify the effect of read-back on the transfer of information between members of a healthcare team during a simulated clinical crisis. We hypothesised that reading back information provided by other team members would result in better knowledge of that information by the receiver than verbal response without read-back or no verbal response.
Method Postanaesthesia care unit nurses and anaesthetic assistants were given clinically relevant items of information at the start of 88 simulations. A clinical crisis prompted calling an anaesthetist, with no prior knowledge of the patient. Using video recordings of the simulations, we noted each time a piece of information was mentioned to the anaesthetist. Their response was coded as read-back, verbal response without read-back or no verbal response.
Results If the anaesthetists read back the item of information, or otherwise verbally responded, they were, respectively, 8.27 (p<0.001) or 3.16 (p=0.03) times more likely to know the information compared with no verbal response.
Conclusions Our results suggest that training healthcare teams to use read-back techniques could increase information transfer between team members with the potential for improved patient safety. More work is needed to confirm these findings.
- Crew resource management
- Critical care
- Human factors
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