Breakdown in communication or a lack of teamwork can contribute to adverse patient outcomes.
Clinical information and the transfer of professional responsibility and accountability for some or all aspects of care for a patient, or group of patients, to another person or professional group on a temporary or permanent basis is a critical process to patient safety.
Teamwork and effective communication is essential to achieve safe quality and intended clinical outcomes.
The nature of teams is varied and complex, they include:
1.Teams that draw from a single professional group;
3.Teams that work closely together in one place;
4.Teams that are geographically distributed;
5.Teams with constant membership; and
6.Teams with constantly changing membership.
Regardless of the type and nature of the team they can be said to share certain characteristics. These include:
Team members have specific roles and interact together to achieve a common goal;
Teams make decisions;
Teams possess specialized knowledge and skills and often function under conditions of high workloads;
Teams differ from small groups in as much as they embody a collective action arising out of task interdependency.
There are many types of teams in healthcare.
Roles of individuals on the team are often flexible and opportunistic such as the leadership changing depending on the required expertise, time available and clinical workloads or the RT or nurse taking on the patient education role, as they are the ones that have the most patient contact.
In support of patient-centred care and patient safety, the patient and their carer’s are increasingly being considered as active members of the health-care team.
Engaging the patient as a team member can improve the safety and quality of their care as they are a valued information source being the only member of the team who is present at all times during their care.
Six simple characteristics that underpin effective health- care teams:
1. Common purpose - Team members generate a common and clearly defined purpose that includes collective interests and demonstrates shared ownership.
2. Measurable goals - Teams set goals that are measurable and focused on the team’s task.
3. Effective leadership - Teams require effective leadership that set and maintain structures, manage conflict, listen to members and trust and support members
4. Effective communication -Good teams share ideas and information quickly and regularly, keep electronic records as well as allow time for team reflection.
5. Good cohesion - Cohesive teams have a unique and identifiable team spirit and commitment and have greater longevity, as teams members want to continue working together.
6. Mutual respect - Effective teams have members who respect the talents and beliefs of each person in addition to their professional contributions.