Teamwork as an essential component of high-reliability organizations

Health Serv Res. 2006 Aug;41(4 Pt 2):1576-98. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-6773.2006.00566.x.


Organizations are increasingly becoming dynamic and unstable. This evolution has given rise to greater reliance on teams and increased complexity in terms of team composition, skills required, and degree of risk involved. High-reliability organizations (HROs) are those that exist in such hazardous environments where the consequences of errors are high, but the occurrence of error is extremely low. In this article, we argue that teamwork is an essential component of achieving high reliability particularly in health care organizations. We describe the fundamental characteristics of teams, review strategies in team training, demonstrate the criticality of teamwork in HROs and finally, identify specific challenges the health care community must address to improve teamwork and enhance reliability.

MeSH terms

  • Cooperative Behavior*
  • Efficiency, Organizational*
  • Group Processes
  • Health Facility Administration*
  • Humans
  • Medical Errors / prevention & control
  • Patient Care Team / organization & administration
  • Safety Management