Communication for Patient Safety
Module User Guide

Module Guide

This module can be completed in whole or in part. 


How to save your answers and create a PDF of your responses to the module


It is possible to create a portfolio, a PDF document recording your answers, the number times each question or reflective exercise was completed and approximate time spent on the module. Register in left sidebar of the module and enter your  email address. Your answers will be saved and made available only to you.

Remember to log in and log out of the portfolio.




Suggestions for Face-to-Face use of Module 

  • Have people complete the portfolio and use as a basis for discussion

  • Use module as independent study for workers unable to attend workshop on related material

  • Use module as an orientation to the patient safety culture of your team/unit/group


Suggestions for Face-to-Face activities to accompany module

 Module Chapter


 Suggested Activity/Extension




 Why communication matters


Discuss the WHO video. Do the examples resonate with your experience?

Challenges to communication

Authority gradient



Have the members of your team line themselves up along the existing authority gradient, and then along their ideal authority gradient.

Make a list of things your group could do/changes they could make to move toward their ideal authority gradient.

List the different kinds of leadership employed in your setting (for example- autocratic in a code).  Are there times/ ways in which other styles of leadership could be used to improve team function? (example - shared or rotating leadership for team meetings?)



Communication skills 101

Good communication strategies








Team meetings



Think of communication problems in your workplace, make a big list, allow members of the team to choose one and role play it as it exists and as it could be done in an ideal world of improved communication.

Write down a stereotype of your profession/role on the team. Talk as a group about where the stereotypes come from, hat happens now to maintain them and how to challenge/change them - together.

Make a list of all of the ways we define ourselves and the multiple roles we play in life (physiotherapist, father, gymnastics coach, musician...) Are we the same people in each role?  How can we recruit some ways of being from other roles to improve our work roles?

Make a team motto: a defining statement of who your team is and how it is unique.

Make a photoboard of your team for display to providers, patients and families. Include photos of people from their non-work lives (running their first 5km race, with their pet, at Hallwe’en with their children...)

Reflect as a group about poor meetings and good meetings. Make a plan for improving your meetings - put it into action first with a role play.

Challenging cases

Case 1



Case 2


Case 3


Do an informal ’chart audit’ and look for examples of abbreviations compromising patient safety. Set goals for educating members of the team and set a date to do a follow up ’chart audit’.


Review the WHO example of "communication during patient hand-overs" and make a version specific to your site/unit/team.

Do role-plays of situations from your unit to practice the ’read-back’ and ’teach-back’ techniques




Bringing it home

Make a list of communication challenges specific to your context.  Brainstorm ideas about how to improve the patient safety in these high-risk moments.