Web site spotlight: Train an interdisciplinary team for communication

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, January 16, 2009

According to The Joint Commission (formerly JCAHO), communication breakdowns are the most common cause of medical errors, leading to delays in care, medication mistakes, and even wrong-side surgeries.

That's why 225 healthcare providers recently gathered to improve communication between disciplines for the sake of patient safety.

Providers from the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), including hospitalist attendings, nurses, case managers, pharmacists, internal medicine house staff members,   therapists, and unit clerks, participated in six different sessions as part of the Triad for Optimal Patient Safety (TOPS) program.

To improve team communication for patient safety, providers from one inpatient medical unit participated in the four-hour teamwork training session as part of a 15-month project spearheaded by UCSF that resulted in the paper "A Multidisciplinary Teamwork Training Program: The TOPS Experience," published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine in October. The project was aimed at improving unit-based safety culture through a series of targeted teamwork and communication intervention.

The goal of this massive undertaking is to help heal a fractured system, says Niraj L. Sehgal, MD, MPH, assistant professor in the division of hospital medicine at UCSF.

"It's clear that as hospital care has gotten more complex—sicker patients, more disciplines involved, newer systems, including technology—we have to develop better systems for communication around patient care," he says.

Editor's note: This excerpt was adapted from "Train an interdisciplinary team for communication" found in the Reading Room at Get a free trial membership that will give you 30 days to test drive all the exciting features on the Web site.



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