Reducing risk in maternity by optimising teamwork and leadership: an evidence-based approach to save mothers and babies

Best Pract Res Clin Obstet Gynaecol. 2013 Aug;27(4):571-81. doi: 10.1016/j.bpobgyn.2013.04.004. Epub 2013 May 3.


Poor teamwork results in preventable morbidity and mortality for mothers and babies. Suboptimal communication and lack of leadership cost not only lives but also money that is diverted from clinical care to insurance and litigation. Avoidable harm is usually not the result of staff failing their duty of care, it is the result of poor training failing hard-worked staff. A few simple teamwork and leadership behaviours can make a huge difference to outcome and experience for women and their companions, yet they are often missing from maternity care. Recent research has identified the problems and solutions, including the best way to train maternity teams to make a palpable difference. We describe simple yet evidence-based methods to improve teams and leaders.

Keywords: SBAR; communication; emergency; handover; interprofessional; leader; patient care team; simulation; teamwork; training.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Communication
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Leadership*
  • Medical Errors / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Medical Errors / prevention & control*
  • Obstetrics / education*
  • Obstetrics / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Obstetrics / organization & administration
  • Patient Care Team / organization & administration*
  • Patient Safety
  • Pregnancy
  • Risk Management / methods*