Mount Nittany Medical Center Improves Patient Safety Culture With TeamSTEPPS®

Patient Safety
September 2013

Mount Nittany Medical Center, a 260-bed hospital in State College, Pennsylvania, is using the TeamSTEPPS® training program to enhance communication and teamwork among its workforce to build a stronger safety culture and improve patient care and outcomes.

TeamSTEPPS is an evidence-based system aimed at optimizing patient outcomes and promoting a culture of team-driven care. Developed by the Department of Defense in collaboration with AHRQ, it establishes interdisciplinary team training systems to serve as the foundation for patient safety strategy. Through the TeamSTEPPS National Implementation Project, AHRQ has trained hundreds of TeamSTEPPS master trainers around the country.

Since implementing TeamSTEPPS in early 2012, Mount Nittany officials report seeing clinical and process improvements that were inspired by the training program's emphasis on core principles such as increased team awareness, improved information sharing, clarifying roles and responsibilities, and eliminating barriers to quality and safety.

Gail A. Miller, RN, MS, CPHQ, Vice President for Quality at Mount Nittany, said the TeamSTEPPS training is producing changes that are strengthening the safety culture at her institution. She gave an example of a staff pulmonologist who was planning to implement a new treatment procedure. "He brought the entire medical team together to prepare for the procedure by conducting a simulation exercise," Miller said. "He wanted to focus on teamwork before the first patient was treated. This is the type of team training, communication, and preparation that is taught through TeamSTEPPS."

Mount Nittany's leadership strongly supported the adoption of TeamSTEPPS, and the program's implementation exceeded corporate training goals by 20 percent. About 95 percent of the center's employees received training during the first year of implementation, exceeding the corporate goal of 75 percent, said Susan Foster, MS, BSN, RN-BC, Director of Education. More than 1,000 employees and medical staff have received TeamSTEPPS training.

"Our goal has been to embed the tools and strategies of TeamSTEPPS throughout our culture for both our medical professionals and also our administrative staff," Foster said. "We took an interdisciplinary approach that included everyone from secretaries to our nurses and surgical teams."

Implementation of TeamSTEPPS at Mount Nittany began with master training support from the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority, after which the center adapted the training tools and led its own training that focused on medical team briefing/debriefing, unit-level safety and hand-off procedures, and situational monitoring and feedback.

Foster said employees have provided positive feedback about TeamSTEPPS because it promotes the need to say "I'm concerned" for situations that appear questionable and also clarifies roles among employees that can lead to improved teamwork and communication.

Impact Case Study Identifier: 
AHRQ Product(s): Re-Engineered Discharge (RED)
Topics(s): Patient Safety
Geographic Location: Pennsylvania
Implementer: Mount Nittany Medical Center
Date: 09/09/2013
Page last reviewed September 2013