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Contributions of clinical disconnections and unresolved conflict to failures in intrapartum safety

Audrey Lyndon, Marya G Zlatnik, David G Maxfield, Annie Lewis, Chase McMillan, Holly Powell Kennedy
Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing: JOGNN 2014, 43 (1): 2-12

OBJECTIVE: To explore clinician perspectives on whether they experience difficulty resolving patient-related concerns or observe problems with the performance or behavior of colleagues involved in intrapartum care.

DESIGN: Qualitative descriptive study of physician, nursing, and midwifery professional association members.

PARTICIPANTS AND SETTING: Participants (N = 1932) were drawn from the membership lists of the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric, and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN), American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), American College of Nurse Midwives (ACNM), and Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM).

METHODS: Email survey with multiple choice and free text responses. Descriptive statistics and inductive thematic analysis were used to characterize the data.

RESULTS: Forty-seven percent of participants reported experiencing situations in which patients were put at risk due to failure of team members to listen or respond to a concern. Thirty-seven percent reported unresolved concerns regarding another clinician's performance. The overarching theme was clinical disconnection, which included disconnections between clinicians about patient needs and plans of care and disconnections between clinicians and administration about the support required to provide safe and appropriate clinical care. Lack of responsiveness to concerns by colleagues and administration contributed to resignation and defeatism among participants who had experienced such situations.

CONCLUSION: Despite encouraging progress in developing cultures of safety in individual centers and systems, significant work is needed to improve collaboration and reverse historic normalization of both systemic disrespect and overt disruptive behaviors in intrapartum care.

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