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Using the Communication and Teamwork Skills (CATS) Assessment to Measure Health Care Team Performance

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Background: Patient safety administrators, educators, and researchers are striving to understand how best to monitor and improve team skills and determine what approaches to monitoring best suit their organizations. A behavior-based tool, based on principles of crisis resource management (CRM) in nonmedical industries, was developed to quantitatively assess communication and team skills of health care providers in a variety of real and simulated clinical settings.

The CATS Assessment: The Communication and Teamwork Skills (CATS) Assessment has been developed through rapid-cycle improvement and piloted through observation of videotaped simulated clinical scenarios, real-time surgical procedures, and multidisciplinary rounds. Specific behavior markers are clustered into four categories—coordination, cooperation, situational awareness, and communication. Teams are scored in terms of the occurrence and quality of the behaviors. The CATS Assessment results enable clinicians to view a spectrum of scores—from the overall score for the categories to specific behaviors.

Conclusion: The CATS Assessment tool requires statistical validation and further study to determine if it reliably quantifies health care team performance. The patient safety community is invited to use and improve behavior-based observation measures to better evaluate their training programs, continue to research and improve observation methodology, and provide quantifiable, objective feedback to their clinicians and organizations.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2007-09-01

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  • Published monthly, The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety is a peer-reviewed publication dedicated to providing health professionals with the information they need to promote the quality and safety of health care. The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety invites original manuscripts on the development, adaptation, and/or implementation of innovative thinking, strategies, and practices in improving quality and safety in health care. Case studies, program or project reports, reports of new methodologies or new applications of methodologies, research studies on the effectiveness of improvement interventions, and commentaries on issues and practices are all considered.

    David W. Baker, MD, MPH, FACP, executive vice president for the Division of Healthcare Quality Evaluation at The Joint Commission, is the inaugural editor-in-chief of The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety.

    Also known as Joint Commission Journal on Quality Improvement and Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Safety
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