The huddles are part of a broader effort to encourage more reporting of safety issues, said Sue Keating, the UF Health Sebastian Ferrero Office of Clinical Quality and Patient Safety’s Clinical Risk Management director. The rise in reporting safety incidents has created a “safety first” culture where everyone is empowered to speak up. That, Keating said, creates an even safer environment for patients and staff.
“Everyone now has a bigger-picture view of safety issues elsewhere in the hospital, as well as how to prevent safety problems in their unit,” she said.
Alexaitis said the safety huddles have been especially effective at creating transparency and allowing everyone to learn how to improve after an error occurs. Whether the issue is a patient fall or the best way to clean up a chemotherapy drug spill, the huddles make the hospital more efficient in managing safety issues.
Making the safety huddles more inclusive has also paid off. During the early morning safety huddle, managers used to be the ones talking about patient falls and how to prevent them. When nurses and other staff who work directly with patients were brought into the huddles, new ideas such as using gait belts more often emerged.
“There have been some wonderful ideas from the front-line staff. We never would have had that if they weren’t brought in to the discussion,” Alexaitis said.
Likewise, safety huddles help the faculty and staff deal with safety issues before they affect a patient or become problematic.
“It gives us a forum where everyone can talk about near misses,” Alexaitis said. “Then, we can put improvements in place before they become more significant.”