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Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2007 Sep;33(9):549-58.

Using the Communication and Teamwork Skills (CATS) Assessment to measure health care team performance.

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  • 1Partners Healthcare, Boston, USA. AFRANKEL@PARTNERS.ORG



Patient safety administrators, educators, and researchers are striving to understand how best to monitor and improve team skills and determine what approaches to monitoring best suit their organizations. A behavior-based tool, based on principles of crisis resource management (CRM) in nonmedical industries, was developed to quantitatively assess communication and team skills of health care providers in a variety of real and simulated clinical settings.


The Communication and Teamwork Skills (CATS) Assessment has been developed through rapid-cycle improvement and piloted through observation of videotaped simulated clinical scenarios, realtime surgical procedures, and multidisciplinary rounds. Specific behavior markers are clustered into four categories-coordination, cooperation, situational awareness, and communication. Teams are scored in terms of the occurrence and quality of the behaviors. The CATS Assessment results enable clinicians to view a spectrum of scores-from the overall score for the categories to specific behaviors.


The CATS Assessment tool requires statistical validation and further study to determine if it reliably quantifies health care team performance. The patient safety community is invited to use and improve behavior-based observation measures to better evaluate their training programs, continue to research and improve observation methodology, and provide quantifiable, objective feedback to their clinicians and organizations.

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