Building a culture of safety
You may hear us say often that we put safety first, but what does that look like inside LMH Health? Well, there are a multitude of ways, but one specific example is our daily safety huddle each morning. What is safety huddle? It is exactly as it sounds, a time in the mornings where staff members from all across LMH Health huddle to talk about our culture of safety.
Safety huddle in detail
Mardi Bowlin, LMH Health’s Patient Safety Officer, said having a safety huddle is a way to prioritize safety at the beginning of each day and set dedicated time aside to gather as a team.
“We have so much happening on a day-to-day basis that it is good to know there is a set time designated to discuss safe patient care,” Bowlin said. “It is also a time for complete transparency. No matter what clinic or department we are from, we can all learn a lot about safety happening in other areas and have the space to give our co-workers time to talk about potential safety barriers that may come our way.”
Danel Cupps, director in Risk Management, said that this space also allows staff to facilitate communication and teamwork through all areas of the hospital.
“In our huddle, we take a proactive approach to identifying opportunities and to recognize our team for their constant commitment to our safety culture and dedication to care for our patients,” Cupps said. “We strive to safely provide the highest-quality care to our patients and to obtain the best health outcome for each of them.”
This meeting isn’t a new concept at LMH Health. Safety huddle improved over time to match the high level of care we wish to provide as a high reliability organization.
“Safety huddle started years ago and has grown over time,” Cupps said. “It started as a smaller safety meeting but now includes the entire organization so we can address all aspects that go into providing safe care for our patients.”
These efforts towards providing safe patient care are made by every individual in our organization. Our Senior Leadership team not only attends huddle in the mornings, and routinely visits organizational departments to talk with the staff proactively about safety, patient outcomes and engagement. These rounds happen before safety huddle each week so they can bring all information back to huddle to share with the group.
“As senior leaders, we strive to recognize our staff’s contributions to safety and make sure our departments are given the resources and support they need each day to provide impeccable care to our patients,” said Janette Kirkpatrick, vice president in Clinical Excellence. “We value and appreciate our patients who trust us with their care and work daily to ensure they receive not only a high level of care, but the safest care possible.”
Prioritizing safety during COVID
Prior to the COVID pandemic, staff members would meet in the hospital for safety huddle each morning at 9 a.m. From there, staff would provide a report about their departments, talk to other team members face-to-face to ask questions and find solutions for problems. Since gathering in large groups is prohibited due to safety restrictions, huddle now takes place online through Zoom.
“It is definitely tough to take something that was designed as a collective time to gather and have a centralized conversation to then have mini breakout conversations if needed, and have to reconfigure to be completely virtual,” Bowlin said. “COVID has definitely changed the way huddle looks, but since we cannot gather safely in person, we had to find a way to adjust.”
Though LMH has had to make some changes, the importance and the intent of the daily huddle remains the same. Moving to an online platform was done quickly and despite the ever changing climate, safety huddle continues to meet five days a week.
Bowlin mentioned that one of the most important aspects about safety huddle is that nothing is too insignificant to report. Safety comes in all shapes and sizes and often as leaders, our staff can feel it's all on them to problem solve.
“There is something so beneficial about sharing your experiences across the hospital,” Bowlin said. “It gives others a chance to learn from them and provide the highest quality of care. This is how we prioritize delivering safe patient care. No matter what our day looks like, we have a designated time set aside to look backward and forward to anticipate and plan on how we will provide safe care each day.”
About The Leapfrog Group
The Leapfrog Group is a nonprofit watchdog organization that serves as a voice for health care consumers and purchasers, using their collective influence to foster positive change in U.S. health care. Leapfrog is the nation’s premier advocate of transparency in health care—collecting, analyzing and disseminating data to inform value-based purchasing and improved decision-making.