Medical EducationWellness

Collaborative Mindfulness

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I entitled this post Collaborative Mindfulness because I believe that mindfulness is an under-appreciated approach to improving healthcare collaboration. Mindfulness derives from the 14th Century word mindeful, which means attentive, aware, and careful.

I entitled this post Collaborative Mindfulness because I believe that mindfulness is an under-appreciated approach to improving healthcare collaboration. Mindfulness derives from the 14th Century word mindeful, which means attentive, aware, and careful.

mindfulness in medicine

The Relevance of Collaborative Mindfulness to Healthcare Safety

Dr. Setu Vora exposed the myth of multitasking, which he said is really task switching, with all the risks of error associated with not being in the present moment.

He advised taking mini-breaks between patients to take a few breaths to symbolize a break between the recently completed task and the next task. He proposed the following tool kit for mindful medicine, consisting of:

  • Thinking well: using the 4 D approach to focus on making the diagnosis, delivering the agreed upon care, documenting the process, and arriving at a disposition for a patient
  • Talking well: using an agreed upon framework, such as SBAR, to communicate a patient’s situation, background, assessment, and recommendation
  • Teaming well: relying on our proud tradition of mentoring and aiding others in need
  • Tasking well: mindful of overwhelm, using the mnemonic STAR for STOP, Think, Act, Review, the most important step being the first to avoid amygdala hijack and give the excecutive processing center in the frontal cortex a moment to take over from the fight-or-flight center in the mid-brain

What do you think:

  • Where have you witnessed errors due to inattentiveness 
  • Do you use red zones where you work to prevent or limit the risk of interruptions
  • What would it take for you to take a few conscious breaths in between tasks as a reminder to be in the present moment

As always, I welcome your input to improve healthcare collaboration where you work. Please send me your comments and suggestions for improvement.

Kenneth H. Cohn

© 2014, all rights reserved

(be a mindful doctor / shutterstock)

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