Aligning Expectations between General Surgery and the PreOp Family

By Adena Cohen-Bearak, IPEP Project Manager

As the sun rose on a cold November morning of this year, twenty surgeons and three nurse practitioners from the Department of General Surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital gathered with Aligning Family-Team Expectations during Surgical Consent faculty and staff at a workshop developed by the Institute of Professionalism and Ethical Practice (IPEP). At the state-of-the-art BCH Simulation headquarters, IPEP’s Director of Patient Safety and Quality Initiatives Sigall Bell, MD took on the role of lead facilitator. The rest of the stellar faculty and facilitators included Craig Lillehei, MD, Adena Cohen-Bearak, M.Ed., MPH, Pam Varrin, PhD, Lisa Burgess, and Lauren Mednick, PhD. The workshop case enactment, which featured IPEP veteran actors Lewis Wheeler and Susan Lombardi-Verticelli as the case’s child “Max Miller’s” fictitious parents, was particularly engaging to this group, and workshop faculty allowed extra time for the debrief of a very complex surgical consultation.

In their post-workshop evaluations, many participants described their appreciation of the importance of increasing their family focus during surgical consultations. When asked about the most valuable thing they learned, participants reported learning how to relay information to the family, communicating with children, and learning multiple ways to recognize family emotions and establish connections. When asked about what they might do differently in the future based on their learning in the workshop, participants reported:

• (Changing their) tone with families
• Trying to make a personal connection with families
• Recognizing/addressing parents’ and patients’ emotions
• Asking the family for their baseline level of understanding

Workshop faculty also commented positively on the experience: “Thanks to the actors for not only a stellar performance,” commented Dr. Sigall Bell, “but also, as always, delivering the key take homes with ease and power.” Lisa Burgess, a BCH parent and FAC rep, commented: ”What an amazing day! This IS history in the making. Thank you all for all you are doing to make this work happen! It is a true privilege to be a part of this team.”

IPEP is in the process of scheduling the last workshop with the Department of Neurosurgery to take place in January 2017. This work has been made possible through a generous grant by CRICO’s Patient Safety Risk Management Grants Program.

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