Background: Birth trauma is a low-frequency, high-severity event, making obstetrics a major challenge for patient safety. Yet, few strategies have been shown to eliminate preventable perinatal harm. Interdisciplinary team training was prospectively evaluated to assess the relative impact of two different learning modalities to improve nontechnical skills (NTS)--the cognitive and interpersonal skills, such as communication and teamwork, that supplement clinical and technical skills and are necessary to ensure safe patient care.
Methods: Between 2005 and 2008, perinatal morbidity and mortality data were prospectively collected using the Weighted Adverse Outcomes Score (WAOS) and a culture of safety survey (Safety Attitudes Questionnaire) at three small-sized community hospitals. In a small cluster randomized clinical trial conducted in the third quarter of 2007, one of the hospitals served as a control group and two served as the treatment intervention sites--one hospital received the TeamSTEPPS didactic training program and one hospital received both the TeamSTEPPS program along with a series of in-situ simulation training exercises.
Results: A statistically significant and persistent improvement of 37% in perinatal morbidity was observed between the pre- and postintervention for the hospital exposed to the simulation program. There were no statistically significant differences in the didactic-only or the control hospitals. Baseline perceptions of culture of safety were high at all three hospitals, and there were no significant changes.
Conclusions: A comprehensive interdisciplinary team training program using in-situ simulation can improve perinatal safety in the hospital setting. This is the first evidence providing a clear association between simulation training and improved patient outcomes. Didactics alone were not effective in improving perinatal outcomes.