Teamwork training in preventing human error

Because of the similar manifestations of human error in airline and healthcare accidents, the experience of aviation has been used as the foundation for safety training of healthcare teams. Explaining this in his paper titled On error management: lessons from aviation, Robert Helmreich pointed out that pilots and doctors have a similar professional culture and share the same interpersonal problems especially as it relates to the requirement for teamwork in the cockpit and in the operating theatre. As a consequence, he said they face the same potential safety threats such as:

    • Overt hostility between team members
    • Failure to establish leadership
    • Failure to inform team members of problems
    • Failure to discuss alternative procedures
    • Failure to plan for contingencies
    • Failure to monitor the situation
    • Failure to monitor the activity of other team members
Last tree on earth. Choo Yut Shing on Flickr.

Because of these similarities between aviation and healthcare, Helmreich recommended crew resource management (CRM) as a team training programme for healthcare. Showing that CRM has reliably improved aviation safety, he reviewed its main components which are the teaching of:

    • Effective leadership
    • Effective decision-making
    • Regular briefings
    • Monitoring
    • Cross checking
    • Reviewing and modifying plans
    • Human performance limiters‘ such as fatigue and stress
Teamwork. Tim Ellis on Flickr.

In our next and final blog post, we will look at Organisational learning in preventing human error.

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