Daily meetings help LMH staff focus on patients’ safety

One way that LMH Health focuses on patient safety is by carving out a specific time each day for staff members from across the hospital to talk about it.

This “safety huddle,” as hospital workers call it, happens each morning, and Patient Safety Officer Mardi Bowlin said it’s a way to prioritize safety at the beginning of each day and set aside a dedicated time to gather as a team. In the meetings, staff members provide reports about safety in their departments and talk to other workers face-to-face to ask questions and find solutions for problems.

“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.”

The meeting isn’t a new concept at LMH Health. Danel Cupps, director of risk management, said it started years ago as a smaller safety meeting but gradually grew to include staff from all over the organization “so we can address all aspects that go into providing safe care for our patients.” It’s a good way to promote not only safety, but teamwork, Cupps said.

“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.

It’s not just the people who work directly with patients who are involved in the huddle and other safety efforts — it’s the hospital’s senior leaders, as well. The senior leadership team not only attends the daily meeting, but also routinely visits the various hospital departments to discuss safety and patient outcomes with the staff.

“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.

Staff members used to physically meet in the hospital for the safety huddle each morning at 9 a.m., but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the meetings now take place via Zoom. Bowlin said the atmosphere has changed quite a bit, but the discussions about safety still get accomplished.

“It is definitely tough to take something that was designed as a collective time to gather and have a centralized conversation (and) then have mini breakout conversations if needed, and (then) have to reconfigure to be completely virtual,” Bowlin said. “COVID has definitely changed the way (the) 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 of the huddle remains the same. Despite the pandemic, the meeting still happens five days a week.

One of the most important aspects about the safety huddle, Bowlin said, is that nothing is too insignificant to report. Safety issues come in all shapes and sizes, Bowlin said.

“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.”

Safety recognition

LMH Health earned an “A” for the Fall 2020 Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade. The Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade, which ranks hospitals as an A, B, C, D or F, is the only hospital rating focused exclusively on safety.

To read more about LMH Health and the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade, visit lmh.org/leapfrog.

— Jessica Brewer is the social media and digital communications specialist at LMH Health, which is a major sponsor of the Lawrence Journal-World’s health section.


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