Toward the Development of the Perfect Medical Team: Critical Components for Adaptation

Megan E. Gregory, Ashley M. Hughes, Lauren E. Benishek, Shirley C. Sonesh, Elizabeth H. Lazzara, Le Chauncy D. Woodard, Eduardo Salas

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objective: Medical teams play a vital role in the delivery of safe and effective patient care. Toward the goal of becoming a high-reliability health system, the authors posit that the “perfect” medical team is one that develops their attitudes, behaviors, and cognitions (ABCs) to facilitate adaptation. Methods: The authors synthesized the literature (frameworks, measures, and conceptual models) on teamwork in healthcare (k = 161) to develop an evidence-based model of ABCs, which current evidence suggests, are requisite for medical team adaptation. Clinical vignettes were garnered from the media and other sources to illustrate how these ABCs—or failure in using these ABCs—can lead to positive or negative events in healthcare. Results: The resulting model contains the most frequently included ABCs in healthcare teamwork models, measures, and frameworks: psychological safety (41, 25.5%), situation assessment (66, 41.0%), shared mental models (56, 34.8%), team leadership behaviors (78, 48.4%), role awareness (64, 39.7%), team decision-making (61, 37.9%) and planning (41, 25.5%), conflict management (51, 31.7%), task coordination (71, 44.1%), adaptation (46, 28.6%), and backup behavior (54, 33.5%). The authors posit that communication and organizational conditions—other highly cited components—(141, 87.6%, and 90, 55.9%, respectively) serve as moderators of these relationships. Conclusions: The authors argue that each of these ABCs is critical for enhancing team adaptation and subsequently increasing patient safety. A list of practical tools and educational strategies that teams and organizations can use to improve their performance on each of these ABCs is provided.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E47-E70
JournalJournal of patient safety
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2021


  • adaptation
  • framework
  • teams
  • teamwork

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Leadership and Management


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