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University of Calgary research shows children’s lives can be better saved through effective communication

Registered Respiration Therapist Kara Groenendijk, Registered Nurse Lynette Wohlgemuth and Dr. Elaine Gilfoyle demonstrate new ways to deliver CPR to kids.

Jeremy Simes- For Metro

Registered Respiration Therapist Kara Groenendijk, Registered Nurse Lynette Wohlgemuth and Dr. Elaine Gilfoyle demonstrate new ways to deliver CPR to kids.

Dr. Elaine Gilfoyle says communication is key when health-care practitioners respond to children undergoing cardiac arrest. 

As part of Gilfoyle’s new research, she and other researchers recently compiled a list of 23 different behaviours under four broad competencies that health-care team members must know when performing CPR.

The competencies include role responsibility, communication, situational awareness and decision making. 

Over the years, she said the survival rates of children haven’t improved, even though medicines have become more effective. 

“I’ve noticed over the year that when we make mistakes, it’s usually a failure of teamwork processes,” said Gilfoyle, a researcher with the University of Calgary’s Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute. 

What has improved survival rates is better communication between team members — they work faster and more efficiently when working, she said.

Through her research, she ran resuscitation simulations on 51 teams at four different children’s  hospitals across the country, where she analyzed how participants communicated when giving CPR to life-like mannequins.

Afterward, she’d teach the teams how they could communicate better. 

“We didn’t teach them what medicines to give or what electrical activity to give, or anything like that,” she explained. “We just taught them to work as a team, but despite that, they actually gave medicines more quickly and had fewer errors because they worked together better as a team.”

Registered Nurse Lynette Wohlgemuth — who participated in the study — said learning better communication techniques has meant the hospital’s culture has become more open. 

“If we can use this new communication method and use it as this free way of being with each other, (then) that endpoint of saving children’s lives is going to be met better and faster,” she said.

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