Teamwork and Communication in Acute Care: A Teaching Resource for Health Practitioners

Publication ID Published Volume
9109 March 5, 2012 8


This teaching resource has been developed to improve patient safety and quality of care. A video dramatization of a pregnant woman requiring emergency Cesarean Birth under general anesthesia is used as a clinical example that emphasizes the importance of teamwork and communication in an interdisciplinary acute care setting.

The purpose of this resource is to improve patient safety and quality of care for patients who must have an emergency Cesarean birth under primary general anesthesia. The need for Cesarean birth is sometimes so urgent that regional anesthesia techniques such as spinal or epidural cannot be done quickly enough to safely deliver the baby. Primary general anesthesia for surgery is a rare event on the Labour and Birth Unit, but is the only way in which Cesarean birth can occur without jeopardizing the health and safety of the baby and/or mother. While this represents a small number of patients overall (10 - 12 per year in our unit), the outcome can be devastating for both mother and baby when this procedure is not well managed. This quality improvement resource emphasizes teamwork and communication in the Labour and Birth Unit during these critical and emergent times. We hope that the understanding of basic concepts that improve communication and teamwork will be transferable from the obstetrical unit to other acute care areas of the hospital.

Traditional medical simulation dictates that learners test their knowledge and experience against contrived clinical situations while being observed by teachers who will participate in post simulation debriefing. The purpose of the hands-on simulation experience is to produce the mind-set that will make the learners more receptive to examine the frames under which they made clinical decisions and to prepare them for acquisition of new knowledge that will help them deal with similar future situations. We hope that the videos will provoke an emotional involvement that will prime the learners to more actively participate in the debriefing.

The videos are incorporated into a web-based, interactive format, allowing self-directed learning, yet are flexible enough to enable a facilitator to conduct small group teaching in a format similar to the debriefing seen following traditional medical simulation.

Editor’s Note
This publication includes large downloadable files. If you experience difficulty downloading these files, please contact to receive a free DVD version via mail.


Cowie N, Premkumar K, Bowen A, et al. Teamwork and communication in acute care: a teaching resource for health practitioners. MedEdPORTAL Publications. 2012;8:9109.

Educational Objectives

  1. To demonstrate characteristics of effective leadership and teamwork in an acute care setting.
  2. To identify strategies that promote patient safety by enlisting skills and attitudes of effective teamwork and communication.
  3. To demonstrate techniques that can be used for conflict resolution.
  4. To recognize and develop strategies against common barriers to effective patient care.


  • Teamwork, Acute Care, Cesarean Section


  1. Association for Medical Education in Europe Annual Conference, August 2011, Vienna.
  2. International Meeting on Simulation in Health Care Conference, January 2011 New Orleans.
  3. International Symposium on Simulation Applied to Health Care in Brazil, June 2011 Sao Paulo.
  4. Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN), April 2010, Montreal.

Material Access

Please sign in to access this material.

Please register for an AAMC account if you do not have one.


  • Contact Us

Subscribe to Our Quarterly Newsletter

Receive featured content & announcements!

ISSN 2374-8265