Teamwork and communication in surgical teams: implications for patient safety

J Am Coll Surg. 2008 Jan;206(1):107-12. doi: 10.1016/j.jamcollsurg.2007.06.281. Epub 2007 Sep 17.


Background: As part of a national program in the Department of Veterans Affairs to improve communication within the health-care environment, the Medical Team Training questionnaire was developed to assess organizational culture, communication, teamwork, and awareness of human factors engineering principles.

Study design: The Medical Team Training questionnaire was pilot tested with 300 health-care clinicians. The final version of the Medical Team Training questionnaire was administered to an interdisciplinary group of 384 surgical staff members in 6 facilities as part of the Medical Team Training pilot project in the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Results: The results revealed a pattern of discrepancies among physicians and nurses in which surgeons perceive a stronger organizational culture of safety, better communication, and better teamwork than either nurses or anesthesiologists do.

Conclusions: The Medical Team Training questionnaire was helpful in identifying hidden problems with communication before formal team training learning sessions, and it will be useful in focusing efforts to improve communication and teamwork in the operating room.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cooperative Behavior*
  • General Surgery / education*
  • Humans
  • Inservice Training / methods*
  • Interdisciplinary Communication*
  • Operating Rooms*
  • Organizational Culture
  • Patient Care Team / organization & administration*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Staff Development / organization & administration*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States
  • United States Department of Veterans Affairs / organization & administration