The Nursing Huddle and its Relevance to Patient Safety
Sierra M. Agard
Southern Connecticut State University
Patient safety is a topic that is stressed at any healthcare setting. Whether it be preventing a patient from a fall, obtaining a pressure ulcer, or administering the right medication to them, patient safety will always be the number one goal. There are many strategies to help implement this, some successful, some not so successful. No matter the strategy, errors will be made. Another goal in the healthcare setting is to reduce the number of incidents and errors that occur. One strategy brought forth at many healthcare settings is utilizing a nursing huddle. The use of a nursing huddle has many benefits to not only the patient, but to the healthcare setting as well. It can help to improve the overall quality of care, and make sure that the number one goal of patient safety is met.
A nursing huddle is a brief meeting of nursing staff, in regard to patients and quality of care (Wagner, Theel, Handel, 2015). Information about patients and patient care plans are shared within that group. The purpose of this is for care providers to discuss any possible errors that were made, and what can be done to prevent those errors in the future. These huddles can also help nursing staff to prioritize care based on the different patient needs (Wagner, Theel, Handel, 2015).
An important concept when implementing nursing huddles is how they are performed. If they are going to be performed, they must be performed correctly to have a maximum benefit. The time and length of these huddles can also have a major impact on the patient. If a huddle is too long, then the care providers are being taken away from their patients when that time could be used caring for their needs. In an article by Davis, she discusses the most effective way to perform a nursing huddle. Davis found that after being timed for a month, the average length was about no longer than 10 minutes. The short time frame of these huddles were found to be beneficial, in that they did not take too much time away from staff and patient contact. Davis had previously discussed how the huddles used to be 15-30 minutes long, but were found to be too lengthy and could contribute to new errors, due to decreased time on the floor with patients (Davis, 2015). If nursing huddles are scheduled at set times for a specific amount of time, they will be most effective.
Based on research studies, the use of nursing huddles has been proven to help reduce the number of incidents and errors, and helps to increase patient safety and outcomes (Foster, 2017). One outcome discussed by Foster based on a research study, is about a hospital who had a high number of incidence reports, regarding insulin administration to patients. In this article, Foster explains the idea of how identification of the nurse who would be responsible for insulin administration during a set shift, could positively affect incident rates. Since implementing that, there had been no more insulin-related incidents on that specific ward (Foster, 2017). In this situation, an error was recognized and brought forth via a nursing huddle. The problem was identified and a solution was made and implemented, resulting in no more insulin related errors. The use of a nursing huddle benefits the patient and healthcare setting more than just communication with one or two people. When information is relayed from person to person, it can be altered or misunderstood, and may not reach the person it needs to the most. When using a nursing huddle, everyone who needs to be there on behalf of the patient, or who could even just benefit from being there, hears the information first hand, and discusses as a group what could be done to take further action.
In the case of the insulin related errors, the use of nursing huddles reduced the number of incidents completely to zero. Although this is an excellent outcome, not all rates will be reduced completely to zero, but even just reducing the number of incidents slightly can have a major impact of the overall quality of care. Another case Foster discusses is about fall preventions at a different healthcare facility. He talks about how implementing the safety huddles allowed for all team members to come together as one, and discuss their main objective of reducing harm rates. After five months of implementing the safety huddles, the incidence rate of falls reduced by 50% (Foster, 2017). Although this error was not 100% eliminated, it was reduced by half due to implementation of nursing huddles. Without this strategy, that number could have stayed the same or even gone up.
Another article that stresses the importance of nursing huddles is one by McBeth. In this article, McBeth discusses a research study performed in a pediatric hospital. The study began with collecting data prior to implementing nursing huddles, and then beginning to utilizing them and comparing the patient outcomes. The data collected shows that the time from admission to bed assignment drastically decreased after the use of nursing huddles. The data also shows that patients with gastrointestinal-related problems had shorter hospital stays after the hospital began using the huddles. They also found that overall, patients of younger ages, 0-4 years, all had shorter hospital stays as well (McBeth, 2017). This case study was performed on a number of different units within the pediatric hospital, not just one. This data shows how effective nursing huddles are across a wide variety of patients, and how they cannot only help improve patient safety, but also their recovery time.
After comparing data from a variety of articles, it is evident that the use of nursing huddles not only greatly impacts patient safety and outcomes, but also the overall quality of care provided by healthcare settings. Not all healthcare facilities utilize nursing huddles, but after analyzing data and viewing evidence, they should all be required. Although healthcare settings have different policies and provide care in different ways, patient safety is the number one goal in all of them. To meet this goal, all facilities should be required to implement nursing huddles in efforts to reduce their indicting rates. There are other strategies that can be followed, but when performed correctly, nursing huddles seem to be the most effective, and have the maximum benefit to patients and the healthcare setting.
Davis, M. (2015). Bed Huddles Improve Communication and Patient Safety. MEDSURGNursing, 2-3. Retrieved from http://scsu.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=113313825&site=ehost-live
Foster, S. (2017). Implementing safety huddles. British Journal of Nursing, 26(16), 953. Retrieved from http://scsu.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=125038423&site=ehost-live
McBeth, C. L. (2017). Interprofessional Huddle: One Children’s Hospital’s Approach to Improving Patient Flow. Pediatric Nursing, 43(2), 71-95. Retrieved fromhttp://scsu.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&d b=aph&AN=123400226&site=ehost-live