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Teamwork as an Essential Component of High-Reliability Organizations

Authors

  • David P. Baker,

    1. American Institutes for Research, NW, Washington, DC,
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  • Rachel Day,

    1. American Institutes for Research, 1000 Thomas Jefferson Street, NW, Washington, DC 20007
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    • Address correspondence to Rachel Day, Ph.D., American Institutes for Research, 1000 Thomas Jefferson Street, NW, Washington, DC 20007. David P. Baker, Ph.D., is with the American Institutes for Research, NW, Washington, DC. Eduardo Salas, Ph.D., is with the Department of Psychology and Institute for Simulation and Training, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL.

  • Eduardo Salas

    1. Department of Psychology and Institute for Simulation and Training, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL
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Abstract

Organizations are increasingly becoming dynamic and unstable. This evolution has given rise to greater reliance on teams and increased complexity in terms of team composition, skills required, and degree of risk involved. High-reliability organizations (HROs) are those that exist in such hazardous environments where the consequences of errors are high, but the occurrence of error is extremely low. In this article, we argue that teamwork is an essential component of achieving high reliability particularly in health care organizations. We describe the fundamental characteristics of teams, review strategies in team training, demonstrate the criticality of teamwork in HROs and finally, identify specific challenges the health care community must address to improve teamwork and enhance reliability.

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