Q: Why is it important for nurses to be dauntless?
Ms. Bartholomew — If you want to form the safety net of a team that will support and nurture each other and keep your patients safe, you need nurses who are dauntless. They view every single person in their department as a team member, they don't join in the blame game when something goes wrong and they routinely ask peers for feedback. They work out problems with co-workers instead of running to their managers, use words to communicate instead of eye rolls or sighs and create a space where others feel safe to disagree.
Q: Why do medical errors continue to occur?
Ms. Bartholomew — Most healthcare professionals are good people who want to do the right thing, but unfortunately they believe that "bad stuff just happens" once in a while because they're human. That's not why. Bad stuff happens because they don't function with a high level of teamwork.
Q: Are more dauntless nurses needed to prevent patient harm?
Ms. Bartholomew — Yes. The reason 440,000 patients die every year due to medical errors is that healthcare professionals don't have the courage to reveal their mistakes, and therefore the same errors are repeated time and again across the country. If that number of patient deaths occurred in the same place, the public would be outraged. It'd be like watching the evening news and seeing 3 Boeing 747s crash every single day for a year.
Q: How can nurses know if they're part of a healthy work environment?
Ms. Bartholomew — The highest possible level of teamwork occurs when everyone feels safe to speak the truth. That's often not the case. Recent studies show that nurses assess a situation and decide if having a tough conversation is worth the risk of facing personal and professional consequences, and usually decide that it's not. More nurses need to have the courage to speak up when something seems amiss.
Q: How do dauntless nurses improve the workplace culture?
Ms. Bartholomew — They create a healthy and productive workplace when they speak up and agree as a team to communicate professionally and constructively. They don't join in when someone talks about another person who isn't present and they offer to assist other members of the team who are drowning in work. They routinely compliment colleagues, ensure everyone's opinions are valued and respected, and make it clear that no one should hesitate to ask a question about something they don't understand.