Teamwork in Health Care

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The Importance of Teamwork in Health Care

The Importance of Teamwork in Health Care

From an early age we are instilled the importance of teamwork. The lessons may come from a soccer field, a classroom group project, or even a song on Sesame Street. Regardless of our future careers, we are all likely to experience some sort of teamwork requirement, even if it is as simple as getting along with your co-workers. Teams working in a hospital or other healthcare setting may consist of several physicians, nurses, medical assistants, referral coordinators, pharmacists, therapists, and students among others. Such large teams can provide comprehensive care for complex and chronic illnesses, but when they fail to work well together, they can harm patients (Thomas, 2011). Team training in healthcare initially took its cue from commercial aviation and the military. The training would focus on communication skills such as briefings, speaking up, monitoring and repeating back critical communication and information (Thomas, 2011). These teamwork skills have translated into important tools for the health care setting, including what is commonly known as a “time out”. A time out is now mandatory prior to any type of patient procedure. Usually a nurse leads a time out to verify the right patient, as well as the correct procedure, site, consent and any concerns such as allergies. This simple pre-procedure policy helps in initiating a conversation among team members and reduces error. Such systems are a must when the World Health Organization estimates that one in 10 hospital admissions leads to an adverse event and one in 300 admissions in death (WHO, 2012). There are other tools used in the health care setting, such as SBAR communication which is mandatory for any type of reporting off patient information. SBAR stands for: Situation, Background, Assessment, and Recommendation (The Joint Commission, 2012). Simple communication tools help improve the quality of...
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