Note: Your progress in watching these videos WILL NOT be tracked. These training videos are the same videos you will experience when you take the full ProACLS program. You may begin the training for free at any time to start officially tracking your progress toward your certificate of completion.

Show full transcript for Effective Communication video

In order for a resuscitation team to be successful, they must practice effective communication. In this lesson, we'll be getting into some specific techniques or tips to help you achieve this vital element for positive patient outcomes.

It's important that each member of a resuscitation team knows their individual roles and how to function as part of their team. And how to communicate those roles and duties effectively to other team members.

Warning: Communication is a vital component in all walks of life. But when that communication is often a matter of life and death, it becomes even more vital. Don't discount just how important effective communication is for a resuscitation team.

Techniques to Improve Communication

Good communication doesn't happen by accident; it takes work. It's important to remember, when it comes to communication or any other aspect of your job, that the patient must always come first.

It's vital that all resuscitation team members know their individual roles, how to function within those roles, and how to communicate effectively in a team environment to fulfill the goals and objectives and to increase patient survival rates during a cardiac arrest event.

Now let's look at the eight essential elements of effective communication for a resuscitation team.

1. How to Establish Clear Roles and Responsibilities

It's important that every team member knows and understands each of his or her duties on the team. However, it's also important that you understand the roles and responsibilities of the other team members. Understanding everyone's role and properly communicating specifics of each role will be crucial for helping the patient.

Having a basic understanding of each role will allow you to fill in for other team members in situations where there aren't enough members to fill all required roles.

The team leader will decide who fills in, in these situations, or will take on the role herself/himself. It's important that the team leader not get too myopic and instead always concentrate on the bigger picture. It's also important for all team members to assist the team leader in accomplishing this.

Even in situations where there are enough team members, unclear roles and responsibilities will often lead to poor overall team performance. Which is why it's important for the team leader to effectively communicate to each member what their role is.

All team members will have different levels of skills based on their individual training and experience, which is why it's important for the team leader to be aware of these proficiencies and properly assign responsibilities to those who can handle them.

2. Know Your Limitations

Every team member must know their own ACLS capabilities and limitations. This will help the team leader to properly evaluate all available resources, assign duties to those who can handle them, and call for assistance if needed.

Pro Tip #1: Asking for help should never be considered a sign of weakness or incompetence. It's better to be honest about your skills and experience and get the appropriate help when needed, than to do something that will negatively impact the team and ultimately the patient.

3. How to Perform Constructive Intervention

There will be times when the team leader will have to intervene. For instance, if a team member isn't handling a specific action correctly, it may be necessary for the team leader to take over that duty or reassign it to another member of the team.

However, it's equally important that the team leader handle the situation professionally and tactfully.

Pro Tip #2: Team leaders should always avoid a confrontation with a member of the team. These will only serve to produce negative consequences for the patient. This includes avoiding any statements that may appear derisive or hostile. And watch your tone. Remember, often it's not what you say, but how you say it.

4. How to Communicate Knowledge Sharing

American Heart Association research shows that knowledge sharing is a critical component of effective resuscitation team performance.

It's important for team leaders to avoid becoming fixated on a specific treatment or diagnosis, or that myopic mindset we mentioned above. This is called fixation error. There are three common types of fixation errors that a team leader may communicate by saying things like:

  • Everything is OK
  • Only this is the correct way
  • Do anything but this

When resuscitation efforts are ineffective, it's important to go back to the basics and talk as a team.

For instance, the team leader can do this by recapping out-loud what has been done that hasn't worked and encourage feedback from members of the team. Maybe there's something that was missed. Or something else that may produce a better outcome. Sharing knowledge is crucial, especially in those moments when things aren't working.

Pro Tip #3: All team members should communicate any changes in the patient's condition. This will help the team leader to make calculated, informed decisions correctly.

5. How to Summarize and Reevaluate

The team leader should always be asking herself or himself questions pertaining to the patient's condition. Monitoring their condition and reevaluating the situation is essential. These questions can include:

  • What is the current status?
  • What treatments have been performed?
  • What changes in the patient have those treatments produced?
  • What are the latest assessment findings that will help me proceed with providing the best care possible?

Pro Tip #4: Team leaders should summarize and reevaluate the patient's condition out loud through regular updates to the team. Verbalizing everything to the team is important for effective communication, efficient team leading, and ultimately providing better care to the patient.

Reviewing the resuscitation efforts and mapping out the next steps is vitally important, not only for better communication, but also for better patient care. And don't forget to get input or information from the time recorder.

6. How to Perform Closed-Loop Communication

When a team leader gives an assignment or an order, closed-loop communication is how we make certain that the message was understood and is being executed. It serves as confirmation and must be done before the team leader assigns another task.

So, what does closed-loop communication look like? Once the team leader assigns a task or provides direction, the exact message must be repeated by the team member that the message was directed towards. That's it! Simply repeat the message and then began to execute the order.

7. How to Use Clear Messages

Giving concise, clear orders is essential for any successful resuscitation team. This includes good enunciation and a tone of voice that's calm and clear. The message should be direct and absent of emotion.

Shouting or flustered speech in a frantic manner isn't going to help the situation. It'll only serve to waste time, as the team member may feel rushed or confused and may even impair that team member's ability to think clearly about the task they're performing.

It's also important that team members aren't talking over one another. Only one person on the team should be talking at a time.

8. How to Practice Mutual Respect

Mutual respect is vital for effective and efficient communication. It's obviously the professional way to communicate with peers. But also, members of a resuscitation team who work together in a respectful and supportive manner will have more success achieving favorable outcomes.

Pro Tip #5: All members of a resuscitation team work diligently toward the same goal. No one is better than anyone else, regardless of their training, experience, or expertise. Every team member, including the team leader, should recognize the value the other team members provide and leave the ego at home.

Practicing these communication techniques will help you establish an efficient and successful ACLS resuscitation team. A team that will better serve the community, produce more positive outcomes, and increase survival rates for those they serve.