The role of interprofessional collaboration on the discharge planning process in the neonatal intensive care unit

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Myuri Manogaran, BSc (Hon), MHSc and Brenda Gamble, MSc, PhD
Faculty of Health Science, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Oshawa ON, Canada


"Interprofessional collaboration (IPC) occurs when two or more professions learn with, from and about each other to improve collaboration and the quality of care” (CAIPE, 2002). Successful discharge planning for patients from hospitals is dependent upon IPC (Shepperd et al., 2004). The purpose of this study is to identify and examine barriers or facilitators to IPC as it pertains to discharge planning on a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).


Case study design using an online survey, participant observation and semistructured interviews for data collection. Healthcare workers on a NICU at a large Canadian teaching hospital were surveyed, observed, and interviewed to determine their views on the discharge planning process and IPC.


Survey results indicate that the majority of healthcare workers on the NICU are supportive of IPC. However, the interview data demonstrated that problems arose during an emergency discharge. The lack of effective communication, role clarity issues, and a need for mutual respect act as barriers to implementing IPC in an emergency discharge.


Defining the context is important; IPC works well in a non-emergency situation on the NICU. The level of involvement of the healthcare workers in IPC varies due to previous experience working on interprofessional teams (IPT) and educational preparedness. The medical lead is responsible for making the decision about a discharge. However, what has been identified as important is an IPC leader who is responsible for ensuring that all information from the IPT members is accessible to inform the medical lead.