Junior physicians are sometimes sent in ambulances with critically ill patients who require urgent transfer to another hospital. Unfamiliar surroundings and personnel, time pressure, and lack of experience may imply a risk of insufficient treatment during transportation as this can cause the physician to loose the expected overview of the situation. While health care professionals are expected to follow complex algorithms when resuscitating, stress can compromise both solo-performance and teamwork.
To examine whether inter-hospital resuscitation improved with a structured team briefing between physician and ambulance crew in preparation for transfer vs. review of resuscitation guidelines. The effect parameters were physician team leadership (requesting help, delegating tasks), time to resuscitation key elements (chest compressions, defibrillation, ventilations, medication, or a combination of these termed "the first meaningful action"), and hands-off ratio.
Participants: 46 physicians graduated within 5 years. Design: A simulation intervention study with a control group and two interventions (structured team briefing or review of guidelines). Scenario: Cardiac arrest during simulated inter-hospital transfer.
Forty-six candidates participated: 16 (control), 13 (review), and 17 (team briefing). Reviewing guidelines delayed requesting help to 162 seconds, compared to 21 seconds in control and team briefing groups (p = 0.021). Help was not requested in 15% of cases; never requesting help was associated with an increased hands-off ratio, from 39% if the driver's assistance was requested to 54% if not (p < 0.01). No statistically significant differences were found between groups regarding time to first chest compression, defibrillation, ventilation, drug administration, or the combined "time to first meaningful action".
Neither review nor team briefing improved the time to resuscitation key elements. Review led to an eight-fold increase in the delay to requesting help. The association between never requesting help and an increased hands-off ratio underpins the importance of prioritising available resources. Other medical and non-medical domains have benefited from the use of guidelines reviews and structured team briefings. Reviewing guidelines may compromise the ability to focus on aspects such as team leading and delegating tasks and warrants the need for further studies focusing on how to avoid this cognitive impairment.