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Teamwork

Teams are a fact of working life. The "health" of a team or teams has a bearing on patient safety. The size and structure of a team can influence how the team performs, as can the internal dynamics of the team members and how the group is led (1).

Teamwork consists of team structures and team processes. Structure relates to size, roles and type of hierarchy but also accepted ways of behaving. Any of these can effect team cohesion.

Team leaders can observe team dynamics by looking at how the team communicates, cooperates, coordinates and makes decisions.
In this simple model the team inputs (the skills, attitudes and personality of individuals) combine with team dynamics to influence team performance.

Researchers have only recently begun to explore the effect of team dynamics on team performance and safety in healthcare settings (2).

Tools and interventions

Healthcare teams pose particular challenges as they are often fluid rather than fixed. The types of  training used in high risk organisations, are attracting interest.

Healthcare organisations are looking to transfer methods that are common practice in other industries (Carthey and Clarke 2010). Crew Resource Management, for instance, is a type of training looks at behavioural (non-technical) skills rather than technical competence.  Social and thinking skills combine with technical skills for safe and effective care. 

References

1. Flin R et al. (2009) Human factors in patient safety: review of topic and tools. Report for Methods and Measures Working Group of WHO Patient Safety, Geneva: World Health Organization

2. West MA (2012). Effective teamwork: practical lessons from organisational research, 3rd edition, Chichester: BPS Blackwell-Wiley.