Successful teamwork requires strategic communication to address and meet common goals for patient care.

Medical errors and patient safety remain prime concerns in health care.1 The sometimes hazardous environment of the intensive care unit (ICU) may be due to an increased prevalence of chronic diseases, higher patient acuity, and advances in technology and pharmaceutical agents.2 Potential fragmentation of care because of multiple specialty providers increases these concerns.3 Some experts4 think the greatest potential for harm stems from a combination of factors such as system failures, faulty processes, poor teamwork, and communication breakdown.

In this article, I discuss enhancing patient safety and outcomes in a surgical ICU (SICU) by using a quality improvement tool to increase communication and teamwork. I further describe the effects of these tools on 6 outcome measures evaluated for 1 year before use of the tools and for the subsequent 2½ years. A...

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