Students listen to presentations during the grand rounds event in Irvine Hall on Tuesday.

Photographer: Heather Haynes


Christina Nyirati, assistant professor of nursing, talks during the grand rounds event in Irvine Hall on Tuesday.

Photographer: Heather Haynes


The second Grand Rounds provided students with an interdisciplinary experience.

Photographer: Heather Haynes

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Students in health care see how a dose of teamwork can help patients

In the medical field, things can change in an instant.

When 3-year-old Rafael Santos swallowed a nickel, the surgery seemed simple. Once the coin was removed from his esophagus, Santos was sent home with his mother and the ordeal seemed to be over. The procedure perforated his windpipe, however, and he needed an emergency surgery and six weeks in the hospital to recover.

On Tuesday night at Irvine Hall, faculty from the College of Health Sciences and Professions (CHSP) and Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine (OU-HCOM) gathered with budding OHIO health professionals to correct the errors of that botched hospital visit.

While Santos’s case was fictitious, the lessons it offered were real. This was the second “grand rounds” event hosted by the two colleges as part of an effort to expose students to a team-based approach to health care.

“We are witnessing one of the greatest changes in medicine during my tenure,” OU-HCOM Dean Jack Brose said in the introduction. “It is a change from individuals working alone with patients to professionals working as a team.”

“I really do think this is the future of medicine,” CHSP Dean Randy Leite added.

The event brought together a diverse crowd from a wide range of programs within the colleges, and they followed along as presenters corrected the missteps during Santos’s time at the hospital.

Christina Nyirati, presenting from the nursing perspective, said that a lack of patience forced a rush to surgery for Santos, and that bringing in an interpreter for the Santos family — who spoke little English — could have cleared up the misunderstandings. Karen Montgomery-Reagan, associate professor of pediatrics in OU-HCOM, and her student, Korrie Waters, noted the mistakes that the surgeons made during the botched procedure.

Nyirati used explained just how important these details are.

“At the turn of the century, as many as 98,000 people were dying in American hospitals each year as a result of medical error, at a resulting cost of $38 billion,” she quoted from a 2005 study.

Such grim statistics brought home the importance of interprofessional collaboration. Through events like this one, the schools are helping to foster better communication to avoid fatal errors. Shifting the mindset of students toward a team-based approach is vital to this mission.

“It starts to get students thinking, ‘When do I get to start working with these other people?’ It gives them the sense of working as teams,” said John McCarthy, associate professor of communication sciences and disorders in CHSP, who heads the interprofessional committee that planned the event.

The second grand rounds allowed for programs such as Nutrition, Communication Sciences and Disorders and Social Work to offer their perspectives on Santos’ recovery process.

For Aimee Townsend, a social work major, it provided an opportunity both to see her program in action and an outlet to broaden her medical horizons.

“In social work, you have to work from a lot of different places, so you need the resources of all of the other (fields) to help you out,” she said.

The second event also broke from the first one, which was held in November, in its emphasis on the students. In the November case, a panel of experts lectured to the crowd and worked linearly through a fictitious case involving a spinal cord injury to a high school football player. This experience was more interactive.

With the success of both events, it is easy to forget that are part of a relatively young initiative. McCarthy said the schools are still gathering ideas for future collaborations. For example, a course is in the works to further expose students to case-based learning.

All the initiatives are aimed at helping to increase interaction between the two colleges as they head toward a partnership in Ohio University’s Health Sciences Center, which will encompass three main areas: research, clinical and academic.

“We’re still trying to figure out the best kind of cases and how we want to do things,” McCarthy said.