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Teamwork in the Covid-19 Zone

Teamwork in the Covid-19 Zone

Enhancing information sharing and preventing information loss

The Covid-19 pandemic has increased the need for PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) in hospitals across the globe. Level 3 PPE includes surgical gowns, fluid-resistant hoods, FFP3 masks and full-face visors.

The challenge

Since the emergence of Covid-19, healthcare staff are required to wear FFP3 PPE in the resuscitation of the sickest patients. PPE creates a physical barrier which restricts body movement, hearing, lip reading and peripheral vision.

These sensory limitations have changed the way medical teams work and engage with colleagues and patients. Teams need to mitigate the restricted communication resources for achieving good clinical results while protecting self, colleagues and patients.

Our approach

Professor Jo Angouri, a Sociolinguist and expert in interaction analysis at the University of Warwick, and Dr Chris Turner, a Consultant in Emergency Medicine at the University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust, have led the observation of 24 multidisciplinary team scenarios as they worked through simulated emergencies. The research team includes Dr Dini Anandini (Clinical Fellow in Simulation at UHCW) and Polina Mesinioti (Research Assistant, ESRC-PhD Researcher at the University of Warwick). They have explored how Level 3 PPE impacted communication and the compensation strategies teams use to share information with each other to achieve good clinical results.

Strategies identified during the simulations included using visual cues, using eye contact, using names, avoiding excessive noise and actively feeding information back to the team to prevent information fragmentation. Their aim is to help multidisciplinary teams handling COVID-19 cases or any other conditions requiring FFP3 PPE through the development of training materials and national policy.

Our impact

Although the project is ongoing, an animation and a poster have been released to highlight some of the strategies that have already been observed, and to help teams who face the same challenges. These initial findings are being widely disseminated because of the time critical nature of their importance for staff who work in high pressure areas where staff are required to wear full FFP3, such as during resuscitation and in teams receiving major trauma patients.

The study is part of an ongoing collaboration between Professor Jo Angouri and Dr Chris Turner on leadership and teamwork in trauma settings, and one of the few projects bringing together Sociolinguistics and Emergency Medicine.

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