Interprofessional collaboration (IPC) refers to the positive interaction of two or more healthcare professionals who bring their unique skills and knowledge to assist patients/clients and their families with their health decisions. (EICP, 2005) There exists a large body of research confirming the benefits of IPC for patients/clients, the healthcare professionals, and the healthcare system. Each profession brings their own competency and skill set and working together as a collaborative team provides the opportunity to learn from each other.
The overall goal of IPC is to optimize patients’/clients’ access to the skills and competencies of a wide range of health professionals. In certain circumstances, optimal access care is best obtained by ensuring that as many practitioners as possible can provide a given service. In other instances, it is in the best interest of patient/client care to ensure that a select group of “experts” provide a specific service.
The ICU nurses at a community hospital have approached their administration (without consultation with the RT dept.) requesting they be permitted to perform arterial line insertion (a task which up until now has been performed only by the RTs).
The RTs react by taking their objections (without consulting with the ICU nursing dept.) to senior administration. What should have been done to ensure a collaborative process and what outcome would be in the best interest of optimal patient care?
The ethical principles involved are to do good and do no harm, balanced with the need to act fairly.
Although the process described in the scenario was a poor example of IPC, an argument could be made for either side having a valid point in the best interest of the patients/clients. In certain practice settings, having the nurses also insert arterial lines would enhance patient/client’s access to the procedure. In other situations, having only the RTs do it would ensure that only the most practiced and skilled practitioner performs the procedure. The outcome is actually less important than the reasons why it was being requested or refuted. The primary concern must always be what is best to ensure optimal patient/client care, as opposed to “turf expansion or protection”.