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Nursing Borrows a Trick from Manufacturing

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, for HealthLeaders Media, March 6, 2012

That's because when it comes to stopping the line in a hospital, it's all in how you frame it. Using neutral, non-threatening language to question a procedure makes stopping the line less intimidating for everyone involved.

According to Papa, there are ways to stop-the-line other than saying, "stop, you're doing that wrong." Instead, phrases like "can we stop for a minute, I need clarity," or "I have a question, can we stop for a moment" are less threatening, and still get the job done. That's where the word "clarity" replaces the word "mistake."

"It's just about somebody trying to gain clarity, get some understanding and then move forward," Papa says. "Provide language and script it so that it's minimally disruptive to the entire process but it still can have everybody save face."

For the people on the receiving end of those questioning words, it's important not to let egos get in the way. Nurses not only need to be willing to speak up, but physicians need to be receptive to the questioning, which is why stop the line must be a hospital-wide policy to be truly effective.

"You've got to sometimes eat a little bit of humble pie and recognize that it's not about somebody questioning your skill, questioning that you don't know what you're doing," Papa tells HealthLeaders.

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