|Type of paper:
|Communication Medicine Community health
Patient safety is a critical concern in the provision of healthcare services. Despite the significant advances that have been made in enhancing patient safety, there is a need for approaches to identify and respond appropriately to safety risks. The huddle has been credited with reducing accident and failure rates in industries with operational complexity such as nuclear power and military aviation. Likewise, adopting daily safety huddles can tremendously help to enhance the safety culture in public hospitals. In practice, daily huddles entail holding discussions aimed at identifying and responding to probable safety risks in patient care. Essentially, daily huddles have been endorsed as an effective intervention model to tackle safety concerns in healthcare institutions. As such, this essay aims to review the effectiveness of hospital-based huddles in improving patient safety.
Leadership Safety Huddle has been recognized for its impact on improving patient safety concerns. It is a powerful strategy that can be instituted in to improve communication and build a safety culture in healthcare facilities. The implementation of the daily safety huddle is quickly gaining traction in clinical facilities across the country. In practice, the daily safety huddle is a transparent forum of hospital administrative executives, in which safety concerns are identified and addressed. The primary focus of health care safety concerns the welfare of patients and staff in clinical facilities. The main aim of the huddle is to improve the safety for both patients and staff and to enhance collaborative synergies between worker and patient safety and health activities. Huddles are becoming increasingly popular in health care settings, and thus it is imperative to evaluate their function, structure and efficacy.
The mode of implementation of huddles may be different among various institutions, but the primary characteristics of the strategy remain standard among a majority of organizations. At the very basic, huddles must be brief, routine, and structured (Castaldi, 2019). Huddles should remain brief (typically averaging 15 minutes) and structured (consisting a set of clearly defined objectives) so as to be effective and impactful. Regularly occurring, brief and structured huddles are recommended because they are able to effectively address health care issues and concerns thus improving various outcomes such as staff and patient safety, waiting time in hospitals, information sharing, multidisciplinary teamwork, management of arising crises as well as mitigation of existing issues across departments. In addition, routine huddles facilitate collective learning by enabling participants to learn from information sharing and through diverse resource materials.
The implementation of daily huddles has been credited for its effectiveness in various institutions. Safety huddles are considered as an essential practice that promotes situational awareness which enhances the identification, contextualization and planning of responses to safety risks. Enhancing situational awareness in healthcare institutions helps to mitigate various patient safety hazards such as delayed detection of clinical deterioration, hospital-acquired infections, emergency department crowding, and suboptimal staff handoffs (Franklin et al., 2020). According to Castaldi and colleagues, various clinical institutions improved the detection and mitigation of safety issues by nearly 40 per cent after implementing daily leadership huddles across the hospital’s departments (Castaldi, 2019). Besides, other health care facilities have noted the effectiveness of daily leadership huddles in enhancing communication making it more seamless, efficient and effective. Daily team huddles improve the flow of information in organizations, thus reducing interruptions in operations throughout the day. Moreover, daily team huddles are crucial as they ensure that clarifications are promptly communicated immediately a problem arises.
Several research studies have been conducted to explore and assess the nature of daily safety huddles being implemented in clinical practice. In their systematic review of various studies, Franklin and colleagues identified different scopes of quantifying the impacts of daily huddle programs in healthcare facilities (Franklin et al., 2020). As previously mentioned, huddle programs are highly diverse in objectives and design. The varying design in huddle programs likely stems from diverse organizational priorities, cultural contexts, and safety vulnerabilities across various departments. Nevertheless, future research should attempt to set out common design characteristics and variables such as agenda, membership, meeting duration, and meeting cadence. The clarity in design characteristics and variables ensures that huddles targeted at achieving a particular type of outcome are efficacious. For instance, huddle programs aimed at minimizing waiting time and length of stay in hospitals should adopt a conventional design with shared characteristics and variables.
Most fundamentally, there needs to be a general design process to guide hospital leaders in making the highest-leverage choice of design variables given the relevant organizational context and the objectives to be addressed by the huddle program. Besides, the general design process could build on improvement methodologies so as to enhance the systematic approach to the identification of a problem, quantifying its causes, and deploying intervention measures based on monitored results. Additionally, adoption and implementation fidelity are crucial in enhancing the impact of huddle programs. Adhering to a well-defined systematic approach enhances the appropriateness and idealness of a huddle program, thus improving its effectiveness.
Different huddle programs employ diverse management practices. Nonetheless, the management practices employed in huddle programs need to be harmonized to ensure that those focused on addressing similar safety concerns follow a systematic design. Thus, management practices such as content organizing and facilitating dialogue require constant adaptation throughout the duration of the huddle program (Franklin et al., 2020). As huddle programs mature, best management practices should be stipulated so that leaders can identify when in the duration of a huddle program, if ever, a change in the process becomes necessary. In regards to facilitating useful dialogue among attendees, best management practices require huddle leaders to identify and coach participants who appear uncomfortable partaking in the forums. Variations in huddle participation and learning among attendees may be caused by differences in facilitation practices and interpersonal communication styles. As such, leaders need to employ behavioral theory practices particularly related to psychological safety so as to enable participants to take interpersonal risks such as freely expressing dissenting views. Effective facilitation practices consistently promote inclusive information exchanges during huddles.
In summary, daily huddles have been endorsed as an effective intervention model to tackle safety concerns in healthcare institutions. The huddle program has been credited with reducing accident and failure rates in industries with operational complexity such as nuclear power and military aviation. A general design process recognizes performance gap analysis and improvement planning process as the foundations of a huddle program. To the extent that a daily huddle program is appropriately designed and implemented, it should improve the safety culture in clinical practice. Improved safety culture recognized as enhanced situational awareness, communication and teamwork, enhances performance on process measures and thus improving outcomes. Finally, improved outcomes reduce the performance gap that initially motivated the implementation of the huddle program.
Castaldi, M., Kaban, J. M., Petersen, M., George, G., O'Neill, A., Mullaney, K., & Morley, J. (2019). Implementing Daily Leadership Safety Huddles in a Public Hospital: Bridging the Gap. Quality Management in Healthcare, 28(2), 108-113.
Franklin, B. J., Gandhi, T. K., Bates, D. W., Huancahuari, N., Morris, C. A., Pearson, M., & Goralnick, E. (2020). Impact of multidisciplinary team huddles on patient safety: a systematic review and proposed taxonomy. BMJ Quality & Safety.
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