TeamSTEPPS: Taking patient safety to the next level


TeamSTEPPS, or Team Strategies and Tools to Enhance Performance and Patient Safety, is an evidence-based teamwork system to improve communication and teamwork skills among healthcare professionals.

Its primary goal is to create a program for healthcare professionals to improve patient safety. First developed by the Department of Defense patient safety program in collaboration with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), TeamSTEPPS was built on 20 years of research and lessons from different industries on teamwork, and provides materials and curriculum to introduce teamwork in all areas of the healthcare system.

Teaching doctors, nurses and even housekeeping staff to openly communicate and develop mutual trust can result in safer and higher-quality patient care. Key areas of focus in TeamSTEPPS training are:

  • Clear communication
  • Team awareness
  • Team roles
  • How to resolve conflict
  • Sharing of information

The introduction of these key strategies results in barriers being removed, such as the hierarchy between doctors and nurses. It allows for a safe environment to speak up or raise a question.

The results are teachable skills such as improved leadership, improved efficiency and stronger team collaboration. This, in turn, changes attitudes toward sharing knowledge and gaining trust, resulting in improved patient care.

Sedgwick is proud to have a team of Master TeamSTEPPS Trainers who can provide two-day championship training and four-hour staff training. During these sessions, the team learns effective strategies that include, but are not limited to, the importance of:

  • Briefings
  • Huddles
  • Debriefs
  • Feedback
  • The two challenge rule
  • Helping people learn to use the language the same way

The Sedgwick model goes far beyond the core training for those who are looking to improve patient safety and take it to the next level. We offer ongoing pre-training readiness analyses, leadership training, post-training coaching, webinars to continue team engagement and other methods of ongoing support. Our goal is to ensure the strategies are hard-wired and safety is top-of-mind. We strive to integrate core values to ensure long-term success for an organization. For many, the TeamSTEPPS training is literally a personal and professional life-changing experience.

Results: In many instances, healthcare workers involved in the training have reported that their voices are now being heard where they weren't before. One example shared recently with our team was from a doctor who reported the success of using the SBAR technique (situation, background, assessment and recommendation) to correct an ongoing communication issue. This technique supports the doctor when he receives a call in the middle of the night, and gives the person making the call the right steps and strategies to convey information that is needed to make a quick and effective decision.

If you would like to learn more about TeamSTEPPS and how Sedgwick's unique model has been used to train and sustain the strategies in thousands of healthcare providers, you can listen to my podcast or email us at

What do you see as the biggest issues facing healthcare teams today?

Ann Gaffey, RN, MSN, CPHRM, DFASHRM, SVP, Healthcare Risk Management and Patient Safety

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