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PSNet: Patient Safety Network
Journal Article

Unit-based care teams and the frequency and quality of physician–nurse communications.

Gordon MB, Melvin P, Graham D, et al. Archives of pediatrics & adolescent medicine. 2011;165:424-8.

Improving teamwork and communication is a continued focus in the hospital setting. Targeted interventions to address noted gaps include adoption of interdisciplinary rounds, use of patient whiteboards, and structured tools such as SBAR. This study reorganized physicians into unit-based teams to evaluate the impact on nurse–physician communication. Following implementation of the new model, physicians were more likely to identify the nurse for their patients and experience increased frequency of direct communication with them. These changes also led to 42% fewer pages from nurses to physicians. While the study didn’t correlate these self-reported improvements in communication to clinical outcomes, it’s one of the first studies investigating the benefits of geographic organization as a potential safety strategy.