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Section I (Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5) deals with the concept of a work team, different types of teams, team members in different professions, and the roles of patients and administrators. We have introduced and explained healthcare teams and their members.

In Section II (Chapters 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12) we cover how healthcare teams function. We begin in this chapter with an account of effective healthcare teams, explaining the characteristics of effective teams and the hazards they must cope with. In Chapters 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12, we explain what is needed to achieve effectiveness in teams. Chapter 7 covers the competencies that team members need to have. Chapter 8 explains team leadership. Chapters 9, 10, and 11 deal with decision making, creativity, and managing conflicts—topics that are important for all team members but have special importance for team leaders. Chapter 12 addresses team sponsorship, including the crucial topic of team design.

What are the hallmarks of an effective team? How does anyone know that the team she or he belongs to or leads is performing well? The ultimate touchstone of an effective team in any arena is that it achieves the purpose for which it exists. Clinical teams and management teams have different purposes. We consider clinical teams first.

Clinical Teams

The purpose of a clinical team is to deliver excellent health care to its patients, and so an effective clinical team is one that delivers high quality care. As discussed in Chapter 4, in 2001 the Institute of Medicine (IOM) set forth 6 aims for the improvement of health care (Institute of Medicine, 2001, pp. 39-60). The 6 aims are shown in Table 6–1. Taken together, they constitute a definition of quality in health care. An effective clinical team is one that achieves these aims.

Table 6–1. Six Aims for Healthcare Improvement


Safe health care is care free of errors that cause injuries to patients (Institute of Medicine, 2000, pp. 18-40). A clinical team is a safe team if it avoids giving patients the wrong medication, failing to diagnose cancer or other diseases at an early stage, performing surgery on the wrong (unintended) body part, and so on. Many medical treatments carry known risk, for example, the risk of infection following high-dose chemotherapy for various cancers. When the risk is justified by the potential benefit for the patient, the ...

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