The Use of Code Lavender to Improve Team Chemistry

A surgical unit at a Magnet Recognized facility, experienced higher patient volumes contributing to staff burnout, and impacting the quality of patient care. Because of this, the manager of this unit partnered with her nurse residents to implement a Code Lavender to provide support.

Using a code to give support for nurses may reduce burnout. Nurse burnout may contribute to increased medical errors and decreased crucial event recognition such as falls with injury. This leads to decreased patient safety and satisfaction. There is ample evidence to support the relationship of low nurse burnout rates and increased patient and staff satisfaction. Nurses who receive support are more likely to provide high-quality care, optimizing patient safety and wellbeing.

Under the transformative leadership of the nurse manager, the nurses set out to implement an evidence-based practice called Code Lavender to assist all clinical staff during their busiest times. Using communication devices, any clinical staff may call a Code Lavender to his or her entire unit. Staff with extra time report to the nursing station and are assigned jobs from the individual needing assistance. A task that might have taken someone hours to do, can be completed in a matter of minutes. Staff is even able to call the code on someone’s behalf. This was found to be critical as clinical staff often would still try to “do it all.” However, since implementation, staff check in with each other and provide support, sometimes even preventing the calling of the code. Because of implementing Code Lavender, the culture of the unit changed and now staff report that the entire unit is more collaborative and feels more team-based.

Patient outcomes included a reduction of falls with injury with sustainment of 8 months of 0 injuries and 6 out 9 months outperforming NRC national mean for patient satisfaction. Employee engagement outcomes included a +0.36 in the promotes teamwork Press Ganey survey question, , a +0.37 from the previous year. Additionally, the unit scored +0.15 over the national mean for the question the unit works well together, which is +0.21 over the prior year.

Sometimes the greatest challenge of nursing is to ask for help. In a profession plagued by burnout, the use of Code Lavender to provide support and cultivate a culture of collaboration on a unit, may positively impact patient and staff satisfaction and safety.

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