Take 30 minutes a day for patient safety

Last fall, Hallmark Health implemented a system-wide daily safety huddle and can already point to a number of wins – more events entered into its internal incident reporting system and a remarkable 77 percent decrease in time to analyze and close out the events in the incident reporting system.

Every morning, 50 to 60 clinicians, clinical support staff and senior leaders from across Hallmark Health, a system of hospitals and outpatient practices serving communities north of Boston, meet for about 30 minutes to review safety events from the past 24 hours, discuss current patient volume and staffing levels, and anticipate special needs in the upcoming 24 hours. Roughly half of attendees call in to the meeting from off-site locations.

The first round of results from this daily system-wide huddle was on display this month as part of Hallmark Health’s recognition of Patient Safety Awareness Week. Hallmark Health hosted poster sessions at two of its hospitals, Melrose-Wakefield Hospital and Lawrence Memorial Hospital of Medford, to highlight recent patient safety projects.

Safety huddle delivers measurable results

Since implementing the huddle, Hallmark Health has seen a 5 percent increase in the number of events entered in its electronic incident reporting system, a 77 percent decrease in the time required to investigate and close events, a decrease in C.difficile lab-identified events and heightened awareness of the number of patients with central venous lines, urinary catheters and on ventilators.

Terry Sievers, R.N., Hallmark Health’s Vice President of Quality, Risk Management and Patient Safety, credits the daily huddle for those improvements: “Bringing people together has had a profound effect on the whole organization. Thirty minutes is all it takes.”

Sievers observes that the process facilitates and expedites communication. To prepare for the huddle, managers and directors review incident reports entered within the past 24 hours. With risk managers and quality department staff in attendance, discussion of the events begins immediately, problem solving and resolution is expedited. Support staff such as biomedical engineers attend the huddle, so problems with pumps, for example, are noted for quick follow-up. According to Sievers, “Everyone sees and experiences the benefits of transparency and being able to problem solve in real time.”

Board members are also invited to attend the daily huddle. According to Sievers, some board members who work in other industries report that seeing events discussed in real time is a unique opportunity to appreciate the complexity of health care.

Quality analysts Elizabeth Alvarez and Christian Della Piana join Julia Cushing and Heather Gagne to view posters at Melrose-Wakefield Hospital.

Hallmark Health’s Patient Safety Awareness Week activities were also designed to draw attention to the importance of mitigating risks to patients in its health system. Displaying the posters publicly in the hospitals provided an opportunity for a range of community members to discuss and celebrate improvement projects implemented during the past year. For example, the session at Lawrence Memorial was scheduled to allow members of the hospital board’s quality committee to view the posters before and after their meeting.

For more information about Hallmark Health’s patient safety and quality improvement program, contact Terry Sievers.

Hallmark Health 10 Posters
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