Teams and communication in Healthcare


Teams and communication play a crucial role in healthcare. Teamworkand communication are the lead cause of patient safety incidentsaccording to Lisha (2011). The ability or inability of team membersto understand each other and agree on medical procedures isimperative for quality delivery of healthcare. Most healthcarecenters require people to work in teams for the effective delivery ofhealthcare services. Despite the fact that working in teams is amajor requirement for healthcare, not all teams are well trained onteamwork and communication skills. As a result, they form differentbackground ideas and thoughts o hoe they should function in teamsmaking it difficult for a shared mental model in a team setting toprevail. Some health care workers may also not be in support of theorganizational culture of teamwork and communication greatlyhindering effective communication and teamwork.

To understand teamwork and communication, this paper will reviewteamwork communication in healthcare for the Canadian patient safetyinstitute. This paper discusses communication in healthcare teams andthe role it plays for teams. According to Kilpatrick (2013) for teamsto meet healthcare goals, clear processes need to be establishedthrough communication on the patients care and needs.

The purpose of this article is to give a literature review onteamwork communication in a healthcare set up and attribution oferrors in healthcare. Teamwork and culture safety are both advocatedfor in Canada through a broad-based review in this article to enablestaff in health care at all levels to have a clearer understanding ofteamwork, communication and promote the safety culture. The articleincorporates instruments to measure the effectiveness of teamwork inhealthcare in terms of attitudes and behaviors as well as theorganizational, safety cultures. Team training and organizationalcultural change also emerge as factors that affect communicationamongst teams in health care.

The basic facts of communication and teams are to understand therole of communication in a health care environment. Afterunderstanding the role of communication, we will be able tounderstand the decision made by teams in healthcare argues Nemeth(2008). The consequences of the decisions made will influenceteamwork and delivery of healthcare services. Teams that communicateand find it easy to address issues as they arise in health care havegreater chances of offering patients better healthcare services.

Communication failures amongst team members happen in manyorganizations. When they occur in a healthcare setting, they cancause grave danger to patients and those involved in deliveringhealthcare services. According to Lisha (2011), a significantpercentage of healthcare errors can be attributed to communicationbreakdowns and lack of effective teamwork. The joint commissionidentified communication failures as the main causes of communicationbreakdown in more than 70% of the sentinel events from 1995-2003. Thebreakdown of communication and failures by the teams in healthcare todate are identified as major contributing factors to patient safetyincidents.

While healthcare workers typically work in teams and coordinatetreatment and delivery of care, they lack proper training on thegeneric or non-technical skills like communication, situationalawareness decision making and teamwork, which underpins technicalskills. Lack of technical or poor technical skills in a health caresetting is risky. It can lead to medical errors and cost many livesof patients. Patient safety incidents are also likely to rise withpoor communication and poor technical skills. A corollary to thesefactors is that effective communication and teamwork are essential inachieving high reliability, avoiding medical errors and creating aculture of safety in healthcare.

Team cohesiveness can be challenged by several factors in healthcare. As with many organizations hiring different people to work inthe organization can create culture conflicts. Culture needs to bemanaged properly in healthcare failure to which culture diversitybecomes a problem instead of becoming a stronghold for healthcaredelivery. Other factors like the level of education, ad hoc formingof teams, sileod approach to health care, hierarchies in professionalcultures affecting patient care were found to be a challenge for teamwork (Lisha, 2011). Canada has a high incident rate of patient safetymaking it crucial to understand and harness tools that improvecommunication and teamwork for patient safety culture to take place.

Team training as a tool for enhancing communication and teamwork areimportant aspects for the Canadian healthcare. Though communicationand teamwork failures impeded on the Canadian healthcare teamsleading to poor delivery of healthcare, the article explores certainteam training tools that enhance quality patient care. According toLisha (2011), communication can be defined in two approaches thesocial construction approach and the engineering approach. Theaccurate unbroken transmission of information resulting tounderstanding leading the receivers to decode the message is animperative aspect in healthcare. Challenges to communication inhealthcare include barriers to physical and psychological noise inthe system. Physical barriers like loud noises, an explosion causedby accidents can hinder successful communication amongst team greatlyaffecting teamwork. The healthcare should ensure that there isminimal noise in the healthcare center for communication to be passedon effectively.

Lisha (2011) identifies the IPO model to define characteristics ofeffective teams and their facilitation or inhibition for teameffectiveness. Besides that, he explains team training andorganizational culture change as the most widely applied strategy forimproving team training. The applied validated structures range fromsimple conference meeting to training strategies like simulators,videos, lectures and skype. Team training provides opportunities forparticipants to practice learned skills through the generalprinciples of learning theory. According to Nemeth (2008), teamtraining offers the development of individual team membercompetencies and eventually promotes a strong team. Effective teamtraining involves learning strategies in technical and non-technicalskills to make healthcare providers well rounded for optimalperformance.

In conclusion, teams and communication have crucial roles to play inensuring that quality healthcare is delivered. Training teams inhealthcare on the importance of teamwork and communication is greatway of reducing mistakes in healthcare. Part of the training involvesencouraging teams to embrace different cultures. Promoting culturediversity in teams is an incredible way of improving communicationfor teams working in healthcare. Elsewhere, to promote a culture ofsafety in healthcare, communication has to be founded on mutual trustwith shared perceptions on the importance of promoting safety. Thiswill go a long way in improving health care and preventing medicalerrors. Positive safety culture can be promoted through an informedculture, encouraging a reporting culture, a just culture andpromoting a learning culture. With teamwork and good communication inhealthcare an effective safety culture will be achieved leading tozero accidents.


Kilpatrick, K. (2009). ‘Understanding acute care nurse practitionercommunication and decision making in healthcare teams,’ journalof Clinical nursing, professional communication, retrieved from 2377-4518-946c-44c1771eb645%40sessionmgr4002&ampvid=2&amphid=4113

Lisha, L. (2010). Teamwork and communication in healthcare, Aliterature review, for the Canadian safety patient safetyinstitute, retrieved from uments/canadian%20framework%20for%20teamwork%20and%20communications%20li t%20review.pdf

Nemeth, C. P. (2008).&nbspImprovinghealthcare team communication: Building on lessons from aviation andaerospace. Aldershot,England: Ashgate.