Day 3 in Telluride started with the yearly morning hike up to the Bear Creek mountain waterfall and ended with the same engaging and thought-provoking conversation that has been occurring throughout the week thanks to the high level of resident talent in the room. A highlight of the day included the opportunity for one resident mock ICU team to simulate the difficult conversations they have been learning about: disclosing harm to the fictional family of Stewie, the egg patient. The team “lost” Stewie in a teamwork and communication simulation game the previous day.
By providing a safe place to practice communication skills like these, residents are afforded an opportunity to rehearse these complex, emotional interactions with patients in hopes that if they unfortunately are involved in a real harm event, the confidence they have gained through simulation will allow them to do so with the greatest sensitivity to all involved.
The team stepped up to the challenge extremely well. Showing empathy and apologizing to the “family”, being open and honest about what had occurred given the facts they had, and promising to follow-up immediately after a thorough investigation. In the mean time, the team offered support, a phone number to reach them at any time, and the promise to make sure nothing like this ever occurs again. With 55% of communication being non-verbal according to some researchers, it was truly awe-inspiring to watch the intuitive body language of the three residents as they shared the bad news about Stewie.