Patient rescue occurs in phases: recognizing the problem, communicating the concern, and treating the complication. To help improve rescue, we sought to understand facilitators and barriers to managing postoperative complications. We used a criterion-based sample from a large academic medical center. Semistructured interviews (n = 57) were conducted, which were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Thematic analysis and consensus coding was performed using NVivo 11. We used a framework matrix approach to synthesize our coding and identify themes that facilitate or impede rescue. Clinicians identified root causes for delays in care, such as recognizing patient deterioration, knowing whom to contact and when, and reaching the correct decision-making provider. This study identified significant variation in communication processes across providers caring for surgical patients. Targeted interventions aimed at improving and standardizing these aspects of communication may significantly influence the ability to effectively identify and escalate care for postoperative complications.
Keywords: Northeast; clinical deterioration; communication; early recognition; escalation; failure to rescue; high reliability; interviews; postoperative complications; qualitative; quality improvement.