Medical Uniforms NZ - March 30 2022
Working in teams benefits everyone
There may not be an “I” in “TEAM” but there are plenty of benefits to individual team members. There are even more benefits to patients from good teamwork of healthcare professionals.
At the end of the day, we all got into healthcare to help people and make a difference to their lives. Sadly, adverse events do happen. Some are unavoidable but not all. According to research published in a Royal College of Physicians review of healthcare teamwork, poor teamwork and communication have been noted as a root cause in 52–70% of adverse events. That’s a massive number. After all, team members can catch each other’s mistakes and oversight or, at the very least, provide a fresh set of eyes (so necessary on those long night shifts).
There is also that famous case of the McLaren Formula 1 team improving surgery safety and performance by applying the dancelike operating ways of a Formula 1 pit crew to the OR. Who knows more about teamwork in a tight space than a racing pit crew?
Everyone who’s ever worked in a hospital knows how complex and specialised healthcare has become. Long gone is the age of a single doctor being helped by a single nurse (or worse, several doctors helped by a single nurse) taking care of everything in one hospital, from triage to surgery to mental health services. While not always as mechanised as a pit crew, medical teams get a lot more down much more effectively by specialising in their tasks: one takes blood, another vitals, yet another checks for specific symptoms, and so on. If all of that is not coordinated, chaos ensues.
No one ever wants to spend hours figuring out what other medical team members did or to fill in for missing work. And if it’s something critical for the patient’s survival… an individual staff member pulled out of his/her depth with a crashing patient is, to put it mildly, not having a good day. So taking care of your own work and clearly communicating with your team makes everyone’s shift a little easier.
Teamwork is especially beneficial if taught early in medical school. Yes, Organic Chemistry is certainly fun and so are all the Latin terms one must remember to the detriment of forgetting one's own name. But if medical students don’t learn how to communicate well, they may get stuck cursing out their coworkers, themselves, and even the patient in Latin (impressive, but not especially helpful).
Health care is the last field for a “not my problem” attitude. If you know that everyone on your team has your back covered by doing their part and being ready to back you up, you feel more confident and can focus on providing the best care possible. Inversely, if everyone around you is watching the clock and phoning it in, how can you be expected to deliver excellent care to those whose entire hope for survival and betterment rests in your hands?
So, for everyone’s physical and mental health’s sake, working in teams (and doing so well) is important and necessary. Luckily, healthcare attracts people who care and genuinely want to help. Just easier to do when everyone is in it together. For each other and for each patient.