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Unit-Based Team Design Improves Communication

Last Updated: May 04, 2011.

Physicians and nurses who work on unit-based teams appear to experience improved communication with one another, which may result in a better environment for patient safety, according to research published in the May issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

WEDNESDAY, May 4 (HealthDay News) -- Physicians and nurses who work on unit-based teams appear to experience improved communication with one another, which may result in a better environment for patient safety, according to research published in the May issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Mary Beth Gordon, M.D., of Children's Hospital Boston, and colleagues conducted an intervention study among 60 pediatric residents and 154 pediatric nurses to see whether reorganizing physicians into unit-based teams in general pediatric wards improves communication and perceptions that patient care concerns are being met. They collected data before and after the implementation of unit-based teams.

The researchers found that physicians in the unit-based team system were more likely to be able to identify the nurse caring for their patients with the most complex conditions (62.3 percent before implementation of the teams versus 82.8 percent and 82.5 percent at two time points after; P = .05). They were also more likely to contact the nurse in person (27.3 percent versus 64.9 percent and 56.9 percent; P = .01), to be contacted by that nurse in person (7.7 percent versus 48.2 percent and 55.2 percent; P = .002), and to feel that their patient care concerns were being met (44.2 percent versus 82.1 percent and 81.8 percent; P = .009). Nurses, too, reported improved communication, and the number of daily pages to residents decreased. The researchers concluded that this improved communication may create an improved climate for patient safety.

"Further research should continue to elucidate the ways that specific changes in physician-nurse communication can improve inpatient pediatric care and directly measure the effects of such reorganizations on patient safety outcomes," the authors write.

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