Lean Healthcare - Respect for Teammates, Avoid the Blame GameEveryone knows the definition of respect. Often times I find that “respect” extends easily to people, roles and responsibilities for which we have an understanding and an appreciation.  In healthcare, it takes many people and processes to create an exceptional experience for a patient.  Caregivers do a wonderful job demonstrating respect for their patients, but in my experience, they can have a hard time demonstrating respect for the people, roles and responsibilities with which they are not familiar, especially if there is a perceived or real hindrance caused by the unknown. This is often manifested as “blame.”

Healthcare teams throughout an organization are working to achieve the same goal.  Sometimes, without even realizing it, blame is placed on co-workers or other departments.  Often this occurs because roles within the process are not always clear.  Have you ever been a patient where you’ve witnessed your caregiver place blame on another role, process or department?  If so, how did that make you feel?

I’ve experienced this as a patient, and it made me feel uncomfortable and question the quality of care I was receiving.  My experience was in an Ambulatory Care Unit.  I was being prepped for a routine GI procedure.  The GI nurse arrived to take me to the procedure room, and realized my IV had not been placed.  Her comment was, “They do this to me all the time, every time I come up to receive my patient, they’re never ready.”   Immediately I started thinking: whose role is it to place the IV? How does the GI nurse know the patient is ready? Has the GI nurse ever observed the work of an Ambulatory Care nurse and vice versa?  In a Lean Healthcare setting, having respect for your teammates and understanding the work in the value stream can help eliminate confusion and placing blame.

The easiest way to gain respect is to go to the Gemba to understand what is actually happening.  In a Lean Healthcare organization, understanding and appreciating the current state by all who touch the process allows you the opportunity to ask “why?” respectfully, and helps to clarify roles and responsibilities.  If the GI nurse were able to spend an hour or two to observe the role of the Ambulatory Care nurses, she may have a better understanding of why her patients are never ready when she arrives.  By understanding the “why,” she will have respect for the work that is happening prior to her arrival, and will have the ability to problem solve, creating an ideal process for the patient and the staff.

Whether you are a nurse in a clinical department or a member of a clinical support team, remember the importance of respecting your teammates.  Go to the Gemba to understand and solve problems to achieve an exceptional experience for the patient and the caregiver!


Today’s blog was written by Nicole Einbeck,  Lean Design Consultant with HPP.

For nearly two decades, Nicole has worked in the healthcare field; from Human Resources and Risk Management, to Occupational & Employee Health, Safety/Wellness, and Process Improvement.  Most recently, Nicole spent the last five years assisting in the Lean Transformation process at Monroe Clinic, in Monroe, WI. 

Today, Nicole works primarily in healthcare lean led design revolving around new construction and move-in services, focusing her effort towards improving work flow and documenting new standards for clients. Her recent experience as the Move Project Manager and Process Improvement Specialist allows her to see the effectiveness of Lean tools furthering her development, understanding and expertise in coaching others to think and see differently. Nicole has a Bachelor’s degree in Health Promotion/Wellness and Psychology from the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point.

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