Recently I was approached by a nurse who is the Director of the Operating Room at her hospital. She began to list the problems her team has with communication when they are called out for emergencies. She shared how they are struggling to get the right team to the right place in the right amount of time.

In a meeting recently, she was venting her frustrations, and a VP with Cardiac Services explained how they had struggled with problems like these for years, but since they purchased Pulsara, those issues are a thing of the past. She heard that the Stroke Team was using us too and they reported the same results.

Based off of those testimonials, this nurse reached out and asked if we could build another package specifically for her team to use. In business, there are many metrics for evaluating success, but you know you're doing something right when your current customer base is finding new problems for you to solve based off of other problems you've solved for them!

I knew this problem was dire for STEMI and stroke teams, but I was a bit surprised to learn this is a common problem with after hours Operating Room teams in the emergency setting. What is the issue? Why is it so hard to get the team called in for an emergent appendectomy, for example?

When the doctor in the emergency room does the diagnostic work up, he or she speaks to the general surgeon who gives the green light to go to the OR … Who do you call next? Many hospitals call the operator to send a page to the on-call team.

The challenge lies in the fact that in larger hospitals there are multiple layers of the on-call team and not every member needs to be called in on every case. If the hospital operator pages the on-call OR team, then how do we know when to include or not include the Ortho Tech while also ensuring we don’t exclude a different, vital member of the team?

Every different emergency situation requires a different team depending on the nature of the surgery. Trauma activations require different teams based off of trauma levels, and the same rule applies to cardiothoracic surgery. The hospital operator usually isn't a clinical person, but knowing exactly who to call and when is a very clinical decision. The “solution?” Hospitals try to mitigate the chaos is by placing manual phone calls, one … by .... one. This process is very time-consuming.

Beyond the time wasted by inefficient communication, these delays can also have a negative impact on patient outcomes. This article explains how delays in emergency surgeries are linked to higher risk of death. The issues above would fall under the "systems issues" noted in the article.

Communication breakdowns are an everyday part of hospital life, but we believe that it doesn't have to be this way. Which teams at your hospital could benefit the most from a modern team communications platform?


Shane Elmore, RN

Written by Shane Elmore, RN

Shane is Pulsara's Vice President of Clinical Innovation, and is certified in CCRN, CEN, and CFRN. Shane is a former Chest Pain Coordinator at Trinity Mother Frances Health System.