Non-Technical Skills (NTS) for Enhancing Patient Safety: Achievements and Future Directions

Naonori Kodate, Alistair Ross, Janet Anderson, Rhona Flin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Problems in team communication and decision making have been implicated in accidents in high risk industries such as aviation, off shore oil processing, and nuclear power generation. Healthcare is no exception. Recognition of the role that breakdowns in communication and teamwork play in patient safety incidents and suboptimal care has led to a plethora of studies in the area of what has come to be widely known as non-technical skills (NTS). The aim of this paper is twofold. First, it provides an overview of the development and application of NTS in healthcare by showcasing recent studies. Second, it offers some thoughts about its future directions. We argue that the future of NTS in healthcare is likely to: a) pay more attention to skills such as inter-professional teamwork and communication with patients (e.g. care and compassion), providing scientific rigour and replicability can be brought to bear on this area; and b) incorporate an appropriate context from systems theories, in line with recent developments in cognitive science and resilience engineering.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJapanese Journal of Quality and Safety in Health Care
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2012


  • patient safety
  • skills


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