Teamwork aids in task accomplishment, improves patient outcomes

Teamwork aids in task accomplishment, improves patient outcomes

by: Rebekah Haggard, MD, VP, Patient Safety Officer

Studies have shown a severe decline in performance with multi-tasking. Humans can do one task well and two tasks relatively well, but when a third task is added, error rates increase dramatically.

This is why teamwork is so vital when providing healthcare. There are almost always more than three things to do at any given time, and most humans simply do not have the cognitive resources to get everything done without making mistakes. Healthcare tasks are not accomplished with little thought. They require cognitive reserves, which become impaired with task saturation.  Additional contributing factors such as fatigue, distractions and safety culture barriers like not speaking up, impact task completion. When it is all added up, it is easy to see why medical errors have become the third leading cause of death in the United States.

High-reliability teams, such as the dedicated healthcare providers within Corizon Health, make a point of practicing team monitoring and cross-checking to guarantee quality care by ensuring the multitude of tasks that must be completed are done according to protocol without deviating from Corizon Health best practices. High-reliability teams divide up the workload so no one individual becomes task-saturated. If one person is doing everything, he or she likely is not performing well.

There is ample evidence to support using a standardized team briefing to improve team performance and patient outcomes. This is why Corizon Health includes a non-negotiable team brief as part of our daily practice. It is a frame of reference to make sense of the day, and to guide our actions and behaviors based upon the prior shift and what needs to occur for the day to protect against safety threats.

Teamwork is one of our Corizon Health values by design. We need each other to keep our patients safe. Teams that brief and debrief are more prepared to counter the threats to patient safety that inevitably come our way.

Reference: “Building a High-Reliability Organization: A Toolkit for Success.”