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PSNet: Patient Safety Network
Journal Article

Error, stress, and teamwork in medicine and aviation: cross sectional surveys.

Sexton JB. BMJ. 2002;320.

This study describes self-reported perceptions of teamwork among operating room and intensive care unit staff as well as those of an airline cockpit crew. In the medical setting, investigators discovered tremendous variation in teamwork perceptions that followed traditional hierarchies. While surgical attendings and residents rated teamwork high, anesthesiology attendings rated it lower, as did surgical nurses and anesthesia residents in decreasing order. The authors also note that discussing errors seems to be a greater challenge in medicine than in aviation, which may derive from the fact that aviation participants acknowledged that fatigue and stress negatively impact job performance. While the findings draw only from survey results and make no connection to actual errors in practice, they do generate support for a safety culture in medicine similar to that of the aviation field.