A Risk Management Strategy for Managing Critical Human Resource Changes in a Pediatric Heart Program

Camille L. Hancock Friesen, Amy T. Lockhart, Stacy B. O'Blenes, Dagmar T. Moulton, John P. Finley, Andrew E. Warren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Relocation, recruitment, or retirement of critical team members may lead to changes in the expertise pool that could threaten patient outcomes in a pediatric heart program. We developed a quality initiative aimed at risk management that uses risk-stratified case complexity and outcomes to guide a program during critical fluxes in the expert staff. The Ramp Down/Up protocol is a systematic, voluntary reduction in the complexity of cases performed, followed by a transparent and intentional escalation of case complexity. Methods: Institutional Ethics Review Board approval for this quality initiative was obtained. Patient/caregiver consent for quality data collection is obtained at the time of hospital admission. Every surgical patient having their index cardiac surgical procedure at the Izaak Walton Killam (IWK) from January 1, 2003, to December 2015 is included. The Ramp Down/Up protocol evolved to have to 4 critical elements: (1) a trigger and a reduction in case complexity; (2) an external/objective expert observer; (3) an escalation in case complexity; and (4) data (qualitative and quantitative) collection and analysis. Results: The Ramp Down/Up protocol was used 3 times over a 12-year period to address critical expert human resource challenges. The protocol was used for variable duration (3.5-9 months). Patient operative mortality was benchmarked to the Congenital Cardiac Surgery database, and outcomes were stable during and after protocol employment. Conclusions: A quality initiative aimed at risk management has allowed 1 pediatric heart team to ensure that patient outcomes were maintained during critical human resource changes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)219-224
Number of pages6
JournalCJC Open
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'A Risk Management Strategy for Managing Critical Human Resource Changes in a Pediatric Heart Program'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this