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Study Finds Team Training Can Reduce Medical Errors

Study Finds Team Training Can Reduce Medical Errors

No physician is an island. More often than not, practicing medicine is a collaborative effort between groups of healthcare professionals working to solve a common problem. Now, a new study conducted by a group of psychologists at Rice University has found that by embracing team-focused training regimens, healthcare facilities can reduce medical errors by as much as 19 percent.

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Reducing Medical Errors with Team Training

The psychologists analyzed the results of 129 prior studies with more than 20,000 participants that examined how team training affected things like patient satisfaction, quality of care and customer service in healthcare facilities ranging from small clinics to large research hospitals.  These “team training” programs typically focus on fostering cooperation, communication, coordination and creative problem-solving among medical professionals.

In addition to reducing medical errors by nearly 20 percent, the psychologists also found that team-based training reduced patient mortality by 15 percent. Furthermore, team training programs were associated with a 15 percent increase in patient satisfaction and a 34 percent improvement in clinical performance. Ostensibly because these healthcare facilities were paying less in legal fees as a result of malpractice cases, financial outcomes tended to improve as well.

“Team training has the potential to teach individuals how to better communicate, cooperate and resolve conflicts in workplace settings, including healthcare,” said study coauthor Eduardo Salas in an interview. “Ultimately, we found that team training is effective and useful in this field and can save money and, more importantly, lives.”

Team training might not be a magic bullet that completely eliminates preventable medical errors across the board, but it’s proven to be a useful, effective tool that can have a measurable positive effect on patient mortality and injury rates. Hopefully more healthcare facilities will adopt team training practices with similar results in the future.