Communication between everyone in the unit is critical to patient safety, this includes Doctors Nurses, EVS, Dietary, Administration, Ancillary Staff, as well as, the Patient him/herself. Dialog about safety and best practices are essential to a patient safety culture and everyone should feel empowered to speak up when they see an opportunity to eliminate risks to the patient.
Many healthcare facilities implement daily meetings or “huddles” to encourage communication between all levels of hospital staff, discuss and report potential safety issues, as well as provide an overall awareness of what’s happening throughout the organization.
One example of such a meeting involves Advocate Health Care, one of the largest health systems in the U.S. According to an article in Harvard Business Review, in 2013 Advocate instituted mandatory hospital-wide leadership huddles each morning, leading to a 40 percent increase in reported potential safety issues, and a dramatic decrease in safety events. As a result, previously unknown or unresolved problems are now addressed in a day or two thanks to the staff’s commitment to communication and transparency.
But perhaps one of the most important key learnings from Advocate’s success is that daily, multi-level communication works as a means of disseminating important health and safety information. What a better way then, to reinforce hand hygiene education efforts?
As one of the most effective measures for preventing healthcare-associated infections (HAI), hand hygiene can only be effective when practices are followed consistently. Take into consideration the latest HAI Progress Report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): when healthcare professionals actively engage in infection prevention measures, including effective hand hygiene protocols, it’s possible to reduce the rates of certain HAIs by more than 70 percent.
But discussing effective hand hygiene protocols in daily communication meetings can only go so far. Healthcare organizations must think strategically about safety and compliance, and implement programs that reinforce that mindset throughout the organization. To do this, many healthcare institutions today are turning to electronic hand hygiene monitoring systems that can provide powerful information healthcare professionals can use to understand, track and improve their hand hygiene performance.
These systems also provide reliable data that when shared with healthcare staff, can help them evaluate the impact that socializing hand hygiene and modifying behaviours can have on compliance rates, and reducing instances of hospital acquired infections. Daily meetings and huddles are a great way to disseminate this information with hospital staff, leading to valuable discussions around improvement strategies for hand hygiene safety issues.
No matter what method your healthcare organization chooses, encourage the use of communication in your organization to improve the health and safety of employees, patients and guests.
To learn more about electronic hand hygiene monitoring systems as an emerging patient safety tool and the evidence that supports its adoption, visit: