Healthcare Team Training is key for patient safety

You’ll find the term “patient-centered care” contained  in the mission statements of a lot of hospitals and clinics. The patient-centered care model focuses on the patient’s health and their experience during every interaction with the healthcare professionals charged with their care.


In this care model, the patient is considered an integral partner in their own treatment team.


Therefore, the treatment addresses the patient’s needs holistically, not only from a clinical perspective, but also from an “emotional, mental, spiritual, social and financial perspective.” 1

The patient-centered care model requires there to be multi-disciplinary “provider teams” who must successfully work together to meet patient needs.


These teams often include physicians, nurses, physical therapists, pharmacists, and even non-medical care providers such as insurance billing professionals, administrators, receptionists – in fact anyone who interacts with the patient and helps deliver on the patient’s needs and objectives.


 “It has become necessary to develop medicine as a cooperative science; the clinician, the specialist, and the laboratory workers uniting for the good of the patient, each assisting in elucidation of the problem at hand, and each dependent upon the other for support.”

 —William J. Mayo in his 1910 commencement address to Rush Medical College

The upsides of patient-centered care are many, including improved health outcomes for the patient, an enhanced reputation of providers, and even reduced hospital expenses.


To achieve these benefits though, provider teams must demonstrate high quality communication in every interaction. In fact, the quality of communication within these teams directly impacts patient outcomes, either positively or negatively.

Success Factors in Healthcare Team Training

In “What Are the Critical Success Factors for Team Training in Health Care?” as published in The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety, researchers observed surgical teams in operating rooms and evaluated their success at communication in addition to the results of communication failures.


The results showed that they found a 30% communication failure rate.

Additionally, 36% of those stated communication failures resulted in negative impacts, including procedural errors, wasted resources, general inefficiency, and increased tension.


An article about health care team training in BMJ Quality & Safety reported that other “studies in surgery have shown increased odds of complications and death…when surgical teams exhibit less frequent teamwork behaviors (eg. less information sharing during intraoperative and handoff phases, and less briefing).”


So, why do these communication breakdowns occur? It might be the result of teams made up of people who have not worked together previously being expected to function as a team under stressful circumstances.

“As opposed to intact teams who have a history and future working together, some types of healthcare teams, particularly in acute care settings, may not have ever worked together before, form under stressful conditions (e.g., a code), and may not have great likelihood of working together closely in the future.”2

The Importance of Healthcare Team Training

In 2013, researchers identified team training as a top patient safety strategy to be adopted in acute care settings. However, interpersonal communication and the ability to work in a team environment are two skills often overlooked in healthcare training programs.


“Despite the importance of teamwork for quality and safety of care, few health care professions’ curricula include teamwork training…”3

Providing teams with proper training improves both clinical processes and patient outcomes. In an evaluation of the VA MTT program, facilities that implemented team training demonstrated significantly greater reductions in both mortality and morbidity. Other benefits included:

  • Decreased preoperative delays, from 16% to 7% of cases
  • Increased antibiotic prophylaxis compliance, from 85% to 97%
  • Decreased equipment issues and case delays, from 24% to 7% of cases
  • Decreased handoff issues, from 5.4% to 0.3% of cases


The Importance of Healthcare Compliance Training

The team training we discussed is important to build strong teams that facilitate the best possible patient care but we should not forget the less glamorous but equally  important compliance training.

In the USA, OSHA has a long list of compliance standards under the 29CFR.1910 umbrella. There are several places that you can get Free-training osha and grab the necessary certifications.

Whilst many of these are aimed at the construction industry, there are also many that apply to healthcare teams and any staff working in healthcare type environments.

Hazard Communication for instance would likely apply to most health care teams, as would the Bloodborne Pathogens standard and the requirement for Bloodborne Pathogen Certification.