Daily huddles keep safety threats at bay

A daily, 14-minute leadership huddle in the lobby is helping one hospital improve patient safety and patient experience, Hospitals & Health Networks magazine reports.

The daily huddles at the 464-bed Midland Memorial Hospital in Texas are led by Bob Dent, chief operating officer and chief nursing officer. After starting with a pledge to turn complaints "into either a blessing or constructive suggestion," 30 to 40 leaders discuss operations and patient safety events, according to the article, with a focus on action.

For example, Dent told the magazine, a physical therapist talked about several near-misses between post-surgical patients walking in the halls and staff pushing carts, beds and wheelchairs. The solution: Installing bubble mirrors on corridor corners.

"It creates a transparent forum to bring up patient safety issues, and with all the leaders there, we can devise a way to resolve it," Dent said. 

In Illinois, daily 15-minute safety huddles helped Advocate Health Care increase safety event reporting by 40 percent at its 12 acute-care hospitals and cut the number of safety events overall, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

Leaders at Advocate report on major safety or quality issues from the previous 24 hours and those likely to occur in the next 24 hours and discuss staff actions that anticipated and prevented safety events. Leaders then tackle problem-solving on their own time.

Tejal Gandhi, M.D., president and CEO of the National Patient Safety Foundation, advocates including not only hospital executives and other staff leaders, but also hospital boards in patient-safety improvement efforts.

"To me it's really important that boards are engaged on this," she told FierceHealthcare earlier this year. Hospital executives should educate board members about patient safety so they know what questions to ask, she added.

Gandhi also recommends leadership walkarounds in which the CEO visits units, listens to safety concerns and makes changes based on what they learn.

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