Chair Files

Fifteen Minutes a Day to Improve Patient Safety

One patient safety tool can be used in all care and service areas, improving safety and quality for every patient at little or no cost: the safety huddle. At Bassett Medical Center, a 180-bed hospital in Cooperstown, NY, staff developed a safety huddle program and are “making it stick.” The medical center used John Kotter’s 8-step process for change, which first calls for creating a climate change. Senior leaders prioritized using huddles and established guiding principles for huddle participants, including arriving on time, being prepared and sticking to the facts. All staff are welcome to participate, and safety huddles are accepted as a judgment-free zone. In 2015, more than 1,500 issues were raised and reviewed in safety huddles at Bassett. Incident or event reporting increased by 51 percent over baseline, and near-miss reporting increased 86 percent. Turnaround time for analysis and action related to events decreased from seven days at the beginning of a safety huddle to an average of 48 hours. In addition, nearly 90 percent of staff at Bassett report that safety and quality issues are reported, investigated and corrected more quickly now, and more than 85 percent report that organizational teamwork has improved because of the safety huddles. To sustain the work, Bassett Medical Center has focused on standardizing huddles, communicating successes, recognizing staff regularly and with high visibility, and tracking issues to completion.

For more information, contact Ronette Wiley, vice president, performance improvement, at Read the detailed case study here. features case studies, webinars and guides from AHA resources and other groups.


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