Southern Maine Medical Center Improves Team Communication

16 Jul 2012

At Southern Maine Medical Center (SMMC), a time savings of 15 to 17 minutes every shift means more quality time for patients. “Huddles,” a mechanism for communicating critical information about patient care needs, once lasted approximately 22 minutes on the SMMC TCAB unit. After the TCAB team implemented an innovation designed to address this, huddle times have decreased to five to seven minutes. The nursing staff accomplished this decrease by providing staff a standardized format for what information should be relayed and the emphasizing the importance of staying on topic during huddles. Huddles at SMMC now occur at the beginning of every shift between pairs of RNs and Certified Nursing Assistants. On average, there are two simultaneous huddles occurring on the SMMC TCAB unit twice a day. SMMC implemented this innovation by writing a policy and holding staff accountable for efficient huddles. The hospital has begun implementing this practice on the other Med Surg unit, and the special care unit now holds morning huddles as a component of their “Team Steps” project. The TCAB team continues to reinforce the purpose and focus of huddles by hanging educational posters around the unit.