Crew Resource Management, or team training, is not a new topic in health care. Health care has even adopted its own name for a CRM-based patient safety project - TeamSTEPPS. Whatever you call it, it’s the idea that health care as an industry can learn a lot from the aviation industry - specifically that many of the concepts used in creating a culture of safety in the U.S. commercial airline industry can be used in health care to improve patient outcomes.
The research, published in the Archives of Surgery, followed caregivers who had taken a course titled “Lessons from the Cockpit,” which attempts to relate errors in aviation with medical errors and teach how to avoid them. After studying 857 participants of the six-hour course since 2003, researchers concluded that teaching health care workers the principles of crew resource management has a positive effect not only on patient care, but on workers’ perception of the culture of safety and self-empowerment.
Some of the most striking results include the use of preoperative checklists (75 % of participants were using them in 2003, and by 2007 100% of participants were using them). Self-initiated incident reports rose from 709 in the first quarter of 2002 to 1,481 in the first quarter of 2008.
The Patient Safety and Quality Health Care journal reports that 90% of hospitals include patient safety as an integral part of their strategic plan and, even in this difficult economic climate, 53% plan to spend more money on patient safety initiatives than they did last year.
I wonder, given the data that verifies the CRM approach, how many will invest in training their staff with the teamwork and communication skills used by all high-performance teams?