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Critical Analysis of the Lack of Teamwork as a Human Factor That Impacts Interprofessional Collaboration and Service-User Safety


The lack of teamwork heavily affects inter-professional collaboration and patient safety. In the context of healthcare, interprofessional collaboration is the practice of handling patient care from a team-based perspective. This simply means that healthcare providers carry out assessment and treatment of patients as a group and they focus on the whole process of treating the patient. Inter-professional collaboration is necessitated by inter-professional education which refers to the incidences when students from diverse professions in health and social care learn together during their professional training to propagate collaboration in the provision of healthcare. Lack of teamwork in inter-professional collaboration leads to staff fatigue, burnout, turnover, elevated workflow redundancies, operational inefficiencies, and increased healthcare costs. Lack of teamwork also leads to a high rate of preventable harm to patients, medical errors, and poor patient experience and outcomes. Team failure is caused by varying reasons, but its consequences are severe and the same: formation of factions, drawing of battle lines, ceased communication, elevated suspicions, lowered productivity and efficiency, and further collaboration or innovation is futile. The objective of this study is to critically analyze how lack of teamwork affects inter-professional collaboration and patients’ safety. This is achieved by discussing teamwork, inter-professional collaboration, and how the former affects the latter.

Teamwork in Healthcare Delivery

Teamwork in healthcare is the independent interaction of two or more people with a common objective, operating toward measurable goals that are supported by leadership that maintains stability while spurring honest discussion and problem solving (Mach et al., 2021). Teamwork is integral in ensuring patient safety since it reduces adverse events perpetrated by miscommunication among healthcare providers and misunderstanding of the roles and responsibilities. According to Greer et al. (2020), effective teamwork reduces medical errors, elevates the safety of patients, improves patients’ mortality rate, and leads to better staff outcomes such as reduced stress and enhanced job satisfaction. Teamwork is a critical intervention in healthcare since the current clinical care is complex and specialized, forcing health practitioners to try complicated medical operations and learn new techniques of health provision.

The need for teamwork in health institutions has been necessitated by the increasing aging populations, elevated chronic diseases like cancer, heart diseases, and diabetes. These conditions require a multidisciplinary approach, hence the need for partnership. Some countries such as the United States require medical teams to manage patients with varying health conditions. The observations made by Greer et al. (2020) were also reiterated by Weller and Civil (2017) who also observed that working together minimizes medical errors, elevates patients’ safety, and reduces problems that cause burnout. Given that solid communication is the foundation of teamwork, patients and their families feel comfortable when being handled by a collection of healthcare providers and report high satisfaction with the services they receive.

Interprofessional Collaboration

Interprofessional collaboration is the coming together of professionals in the healthcare sector to offer quality care (Reeves et al., 2011). It occurs when all health providers (nurses, clinical officers, doctors, pharmacists, and other registered healthcare professionals) team up to provide the best care to patients (Littlechild & Smith, 2013). Interprofessional collaboration from a healthcare perspective entails medical practitioners working together to offer exhaustive care while recognizing the responsibilities and competencies of each healthcare expert. According to Barr et al. (2008), interprofessional collaboration becomes effective when there is open communication, respect, trust, and acknowledgment of each members’ role among medical practitioners. To realize an effective interprofessional collaboration, each health provider should understand their roles and responsibilities and be active in communication.

Interprofessional collaboration is needed within health care delivery. With the right communication strategies and technology, interprofessional collaboration improves patient care and outcomes. A team of healthcare professionals has varying perspectives and valuable insights about patients that facilitate their quick treatment. With only one healthcare provider looking after a patient, there are possibilities of them erring in their service provision due to narrow or unidirectional perspectives. Interprofessional collaboration reduces medical errors. As noted by Hammick et al. (2007), gaps in communication in health institutions which is caused by a lack of interprofessional collaboration are the third leading cause of death in the United States and it has serious ramifications on a patient such as missed symptoms, misdiagnosis and medical errors. Interprofessional collaboration facilitates faster treatment, reduces inefficiencies and healthcare costs, and improves staff relationships and job satisfaction.

Analysis of the Impact of Lack of Teamwork on Interprofessional Collaboration and Patient Safety

Teamwork is the practice of operating in a group to achieve the objectives of an organization through dynamic exchange of resources, coordination of effort, and adaptation to the altering situational factors. Good teamwork in health institutions is necessary for bringing out the desired outcome and this is facilitated via effective communication skills. Quality teamwork is integral in professional satisfaction and engagement, productivity, organizational performance, and patient satisfaction and outcome. A well-structured team in healthcare impedes patient mortality, poor health performance, and staff absenteeism and turnover (Tweedie et al., 2019). An effective team is composed of various disciplines. Health practitioners should come together, communicate effectively, and be open to new ideas to ensure that there are successful patient outcomes. The collaboration among health providers should not only be limited to them but also with patients. All members of the medical facility benefit from teams with diverse backgrounds and experiences which results in efficient care of patients. When all health participants are engaged in a program, the objectives of medical facilities are easily achieved. Being able to efficiently communicate and work collectively as a group requires acknowledgment and appreciation from the members’ area of practice (Mach et al., 2021). The members of a team play a critical role and the appreciation of their contributions makes them responsible and accountable.

Teamwork plays a critical role in the inter-professional group. It sharpens the performance of the unit via simplification. Good teams are not formed by chance but through consistent action and constructive feedback in a high morale workplace. It encourages feedback among health professionals that is not impeded by vague philosophy or precision (Gardner, 2015). Since the health profession requires teamwork, identifying what works, inculcating collaborative learning, and meeting objectives as a group elevates the motivation and focus of team members. Teamwork enables health professionals to be in control of their destinies and it kills the old hierarchical model of dictating the thoughts and actions of people working in a polarized business environment. With effective teamwork, health practitioners are insulated from the stress and pressure of putting up with a tyrant manager who controls employees working individually (Cooke, 2016). Teamwork also develops a code of conduct and instills discipline among the group members. There is a higher probability of group members being disciplined and sticking to the provided guidelines as compared to medical practitioners working on their own. Group work facilitates discipline since the members of the team motivate themselves and encourage each other to ensure they meet their objectives. As noted by Cooke (2016), the discovery of the core values of a company requires asking the right questions that can be scaled down to meet the needs of the team. Team building entails finding answers to the questions but on a limited scale. Given that team members, managers, and employees want an effective system and culture where they are empowered by their work, health facilities thrive to create a culture that enables medical practitioners to use their unique skills, motivation, and experience to make a difference for the team and themselves.

Teamwork impacts the safety of service users and inter-professional collaboration in various ways. Effective coordination of teams in healthcare reduces the level of stress experienced by patients, fastens their recovery, and positively impacts the outcome. Through effective coordination, teamwork enhances the safety of patients through elevated clinical performance, reduced medical errors, heightened efficiencies, reduced health cost, and eased concerns of patients regarding treatment and procedures. Inter-professional collaboration is also affected by teamwork. Teamwork facilitates inter-professional collaboration which is integral in improving patient care and outcomes. Through teamwork, health professionals can effectively reduce medical errors, facilitate faster treatment, minimize inefficiencies, enhance staff relationships and job satisfaction, and empower inter-professional collaboration in healthcare with mobile solutions (O’Connor, 2019).

Interprofessional communication entails the operation of medical practitioners as a unit through effective communication, respect, and acknowledgment of the roles played by others. Teamwork is the foundation of interprofessional collaboration. The absence of teamwork in a medical setup leads to an array of problems such as staff fatigue, burnout, high workflow redundancies, elevated costs of healthcare, and operational inefficiencies (Slusser et al., 2018). Lack of teamwork causes a high rate of avoidable harm to patients, medical errors, and poor patient experience. Among healthcare professionals, team failure leads to the formation of divisions, no communication, heightened suspicions, reduced productivity and efficiency, drawn battle lines, and futile innovation or corporation (Altmiller, 2014).

Lack of teamwork grossly affects interprofessional communication. With health providers working independently, no flow of critical information facilitates the diagnosis, treatment, and recovery of patients. The safety of patients is jeopardized with collapsed communication since healthcare entails complex and specialized treatments that cannot be carried out by an individual (Weller & Civil, 2017). Medical practitioners who operate without collaborating with others tend to experience fatigue and burnout since they execute multiple activities that can grossly be reduced by engaging other practitioners. Lack of teamwork also leads to redundancy in workflow since there is no division of roles. Health providers who work indecently tend to repeatedly carry out the same activities yet with collaboration, such repetitions can be minimized (Forman et al., 2020). The cost of healthcare also increases when there is no teamwork since health providers take longer to handle patients and they encounter numerous errors which make the whole process costly (Reeves et al., 2011). Lack of collaboration among medical practitioners also leads to inefficiencies that elevate the risks of medical errors and reduce the quality of care. Medical practitioners who do not exercise teamwork lose motivation and knowledge and experience reduced efficiency in their operations. They also experience imbalanced professional relationships, especially between nurses and physicians.

Non-teamwork is not acceptable in inter-professional collaboration since the healthcare setting does not allow a patient to be under the control of one health provider. The provision of healthcare is achieved by an interdisciplinary team of medical practitioners who are experts in different fields (Stewart, 2018). Each member of the team has a unique perspective and integral insights into the condition of a patient. They observe different symptoms, consider varying possibilities, and provide unique treatment and care. Working as a unit, the professionals have a comprehensive and holistic insight into the patient.


Teamwork plays a critical role in patient care and interprofessional collaboration. It generates an environment that encourages team members to share their collective knowledge, resources, and skills. With open communication and sharing, team members reflect on their way of thinking and how to approach a situation. When health professionals operate cohesively, medical facilities experience elevated quality of patient care, increased patient safety, reduction in team stress and fatigue, elevated job satisfaction, improved time management skills, and enhanced skill sets. Teamwork is not always successful in healthcare. The absence of teamwork affects patient care and inter-professional collaboration. Lack of teamwork is caused by prioritizing one’s individual needs, lack of focus and commitment of team members, distrust of other team members, lack of accountability, and lack of keen attention. Lack of communication and group work leads to mistakes such as medication errors or misdiagnosis which can be detrimental to patients and at times worsen the pre-existing health issues. The effects of medical errors are not just limited to patients but also healthcare delivery for facilities, at times employee/personnel wages and insurance cost. Numerous errors that happen in healthcare facilities impact the reputation of such medical institutions, causing patients to look for medical assistance elsewhere. Teamwork and interprofessional collaboration require effective implementation of regulations for it to be successful. No medical institution does not need interprofessional collaboration since healthcare provision is achieved through an interdisciplinary team of medical practitioners who are experienced in various fields.


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