Project TICKER aims to improve care of pediatric heart patients

Pediatric congenital heart disease patients, a high‐risk group, receive care from many medical teams in a complex system of hospital units. UNC Hospitals provides excellent care of these patients, but is always looking for ways to improve.  A new research study aims to do just that.

Tina Schade Willis, MD, is principal investigator for Project TICKER (Teamwork to Improve Cardiac Kids' End Results), which is funded by a grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). Pediatric heart surgeon Michael R. Mill, MD, and pediatric cardiologist Scott Buck, MD, are co-investigators. Karla Brown, RN, MSN, PNP, the nurse practitioner who cares for pediatric heart surgery patients at UNC, is an investigator.

The project will involve a partnership among hospital service units (pediatric intensive care, children's intermediate cardiac care, newborn critical care, and the operating room), ancillary support teams (nutrition, pharmacy, patient- and family-centered care specialists, chaplain), medical teams (cardiothoracic surgery, pediatric cardiac anesthesia, cardiology, pediatric critical care, neonatology) and pediatric congenital heart disease patients and their families.

The aims of Project TICKER are to implement a strong foundation of communication and teamwork for the general care of pediatric congenital heart disease patients using a tailored training program, TeamSTEPPS™ and to design and implement integrated clinical pathways (ICPs) for two of the most common congenital heart disease diagnoses using the specific teamwork tools of TeamSTEPPS and evidence‐based standardized care throughout the patient's entire hospital stay.

TeamSTEPPS is a teamwork training program for health care professionals developed by the Department of Defense and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. All health-care personnel providing care to pediatric cardiac patients will receive training in TeamSTEPPS, and the project will measure teamwork performance using a validated teamwork observation tool.

Project TICKER is funded by a $574,523 grant from AHRQ. Read more about the project.