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Building Collaborative Partnerships in Critical Care: The RN Case Manager/Social Work Dyad in Critical Care

Carr, Dana Deravin RN-BC, CCM, MPH, MS

doi: 10.1097/NCM.0b013e3181a774c3

Purpose/Objectives More than 5 million patients are admitted annually to intensive care units (ICUs) in the United States. As the life expectancy of the population continues to lengthen, we should expect to see a proportionate increase in the burden of acute and chronic illness as well as a rise in the demand for critical care services. The case management dyad team of nurse case manager and social worker enhances and supports the critical care team through the implementation of collaborative interventions that focus upon the (1) minimization of inpatient transitions, (2) reduction of cost by decreasing the length of stay, (3) promotion of patient and family satisfaction through efforts of advocacy, and (4) enhanced discharge planning.

Primary Practice Setting(s) Hospital ICUs.

Findings/Conclusions In the critical care setting the professional partnership of the RN case manager/masters in social worker (RN/MSW) dyad is a core component in the linkage of the ICU support system and it enhances the functioning of the ICU multidisciplinary team. The efforts of the dyad team are congruent with the goals of patient care, with the desires of the family, and with the mission of the organization. Shared goals and a shared commitment to professional practice provide the essential building blocks of the dyad relationship. The dyad structure presents an opportunity for RN case managers and social workers to integrate their strengths and skills in a collaborative patient-centered effort.

Implications for Case Management Practice 
  • The RN/MSW dyad structure as a model for case management practice promotes continuity of care and strengthens professional relationships.

The RN/MSW dyad structure as a model for case management practice promotes continuity of care and strengthens professional relationships. The case manager and the social worker have many shared responsibilities; therefore, a partnership that promotes continuous collaboration and communication is essential to the achievement of successful patient care outcomes.

  • The professional partnership that evolves, as depicted by the RN/MSW dyad structure, enhances the organizations' mission to deliver quality patient-centered care.

Dana Deravin Carr, RN-BC, CCM, MPH, MS, is the Principal Care Manager for the Burn unit, Surgical ICU and Inpatient Physical Rehabilitation at Jacobi Medical Center, Bronx, NY. She brings to the field of case management a diverse clinical and administrative background, which includes home health and long-term care. This diversity of experience promotes continuity across the health care continuum.

Address correspondence to Dana Deravin Carr, RN-BC, CCM, MPH, MS, Jacobi Medical Center, Care Management Department-2 South 3, 1400 Pelham Pkwy South, Bronx, NY 10461 (;

The author has no conflict of interest.

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.