How to create an error intolerant culture within high performing medical teams


Patients face risks, not from diseases or injuries but from medical teams because of faults committed in health care. These medical faults result to patient injury and even fatalities, therefore, error-intolerant medical teams have to pioneer and perfect strategies to reduce and avoid such mistakes. Health care is prone to errors that occur in care systems: clinics, nursing homes, pharmacies, hospitals and surgery centers. Therefore, in ensuring an error intolerant culture, high performing medical teams have to provide fault-free medical care.

Effective communication serves as the first method in ensuring an error intolerant culture. Communication forms the central component in a team because it glues the entire team. Salas et al. highlight that the joint commission statistics identified errors in communication between team members as the root cause of 67% of sentinel events. They add that poor communication lapses among health care members emerge as the main factor in the occurrence of errors. Any high performing medical team should understand team dynamics and practice functional team skills. Such skills form crucial aspects of avoiding errors in patient management. Salas et al. explain that failure to communicate crucial information in the operating rooms occurs in almost 30% of team exchanges. These failures lead to emotional tension, resource waste, inefficiency and procedural errors; all of which have adverse effects on patients.

Secondly, effective leadership and supervision serve as another method of creating an error intolerant culture. Team leaders in high performing medical teams have three main functions; teaching members by providing instructions, providing strategic direction and monitoring team performance. Yun et al studied the characteristics of leadership teams in level I trauma centers, and they discovered the significance of leadership adaptability since teams work in time constrained and uncertain environments. Yun et al add that leaders cannot ascertain the arrival of critical patients or the type of injuries and the number of patients expected. These leaders do not know with certainty such crucial information as a patient’s medical history; therefore, their leadership adaptability becomes crucial in such urgent and uncertain situations. Good leaders have the ability to trigger performance from all team members and encourage each team member to share knowledge and information in order to eliminate errors.

Medical teams have the responsibility of preserving human life, therefore, they have to pioneer and perfect strategies that can reduce and avoid medical errors. These medical teams have an obligation to ensure they create an error intolerant culture to ensure patients receive quality medical care. Effective communication is one of the strategies to employ since it forms a central component that glues together an entire team. Effective leadership and supervision is another strategy since it facilitates performance from the team members and encourages each team member to share information and knowledge to ensure patient safety.

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