BOSTON, MA – “Go figure out the best way to improve patient safety and medical care at our hospital,” was the charge that CEO of Memorial Hospital, Dr. Gina Stockdale, posed to her panel members.  A junior panel member in the back of the room raised his hand and said, “How about a happy hour for employees?”

Laughter and jeers filled the room at first, but the tide quickly changed when Dr. Stockdale stood up and said, “Rob, make it happen.”

happy hour for health care workers
“To stamping out disease!”

As of August 1st, employees of Memorial Hospital have been required to attend a 30-minute happy hour session in a newly sectioned off part of the hospital cafeteria that extends into a courtyard.  Happy hour is available from 1100-1400 with a two-drink maximum being imposed. Drinking is completely optional, but attendance is mandatory.

As to not exclude night-shift employees, a special night shift happy hour will be from 2300-0200 along with a DJ and a light show on the dance floor, since we all know night shift workers really know how to throw down.

“Numerous studies show that communication between colleagues improves performance and patient outcomes,” said Janet Wilkerson, a patient safety analyst.  “It only makes sense to create an atmosphere that promotes interaction and discussion in the hospital.  I can’t think of a better way to do that than a happy hour.”

Jim Ubberton, a surgical patient on 4-West, noticed a huge difference with his nurse Samantha Jenkins.  “I immediately noticed a change yesterday.  Samantha was actually excited to bring me my bed pan.  She really put a smile on my face, you know what… I want to walk again!”

ER nurse, Jeremy Hokesburry, absolutely loves the new change.  “The only thing that gets me through my shift is knowing happy hour is around the corner.  After 1 or 2 drinks and interacting with my colleagues in a social setting, I come back to the ER refreshed and ready to take on the next drunk that comes in.”

Surgeons are now talking to anesthesiologists, emergency medicine physicians are talking to hospitalists, ER nurses are toasting with ICU nurses, and radiologists are seeing sunlight for the first time in years.  “Memorial Hospital is actually fun to work at now.”

“We have seen huge increases in recruitment and high-quality workers applying for jobs here now,” said human resources manager Janet White.

Hospital mixologists, aka pharmacists, are already bringing new innovative drinks and specials to the table.  The most popular mixed drinks are the “Code Blue” (a mix of blue curacao and gin), “The ECT Mind Eraser” (a mix of tequila and Goldschläger), and “Endometreosis” (a mix of chocolate vodka and Baileys).

Daily drink specials will be tied directly to patient outcomes.  Wards with decreased mortality, decreased medication errors, and improved patient satisfaction scores will have discounted drinks during happy hour.  Wards with poor scores and increased mortality will have to pay double or even triple for the same drinks.  Sicker patients will be weighed into advanced formulas to even the playing field.

Mondays will be half-off drinks if you have a dialysis patient.  Tuesdays will be $1 off imported beers if you have a ventilated patient, and Thursdays will be free drinks if you have a patient on Lasix who doesn’t have a Foley in place.

“We hope to incentivize health care workers to step up and take care of sicker patients by offering drink specials for them,” said Stockdale.  “We are thinking of making Wednesdays, half off well drinks if you have a chronic pain patient with more than 12 allergies.  I can only imagine one would need a drink after a day like that.”

Some critics don’t like the idea of mixing alcohol and hospital work, citing decreased performance and fatigue as a detrimental side effect.  Administrators were quick to point out that strict rules would only allow 2 drinks a day and that if anyone did get out of hand at happy hour, their individual happy hour privileges would be pulled, in addition to all other workers on that particular ward.

Memorial Hospital hopes to publish articles in the near future about linking happy hour to improved work performance.  GomerBlog wants to know from its readers, what do you think: Would it?