The Essential Hospital Engagement Network’s Leadership for Safety Program recently discussed how safety huddles can dramatically improve patient safety if executed frequently and consistently.

According to Jim Reinertsen, MD, who leads the EHEN leadership programming, a safety huddle is a 15-minute daily meeting of key operational leaders, led by the CEO or an equivalent administrative or clinical leader. The agenda usually includes:

  • A quick safety status check: “It’s been X days since our last Serious Safety Event and Y Days since last employee lost work day event.”
  • A brief report on any safety issues from each manager, including security, facilities, bio-med, etc.
  • A brief follow-up on any previously identified urgent safety issues

Reinertsen notes that safety huddles generally work best around 8:30 am or 9 am, to allow managers to have their own “pre-huddles” with their respective teams.

Safety Huddle Example: Swedish Medical Center/Ballard

At Swedish/Ballard – which started safety huddles in 2009 – the huddle is a 15-minute stand-up gathering that occurs twice daily, once at 9:45 am and again at 9:45 pm. The huddle includes representatives from each department throughout the campus, including ambulatory clinics and support departments.

According to Swedish/Ballard, huddles provide a “state of the union” report and an opportunity to clarify questions and address safety concerns from the perspective of each department.