With two decades of healthcare leadership experience, Villanova Nursing DNP alumnus Paul Minnick, DNP, RN, NEA-BC has become a firm believer in gathering hospital staff into a daily proactive, pre-emptive huddle on patient safety. He takes his job “very seriously,” and with good reason. As senior vice president and chief operating officer for the regional Virtua Voorhees Hospital and campus in New Jersey, he provides executive oversight of all operations, services and equipment, among other extensive responsibilities.
Yearly, Virtua Voorhees handles “85,000 emergency department patients, nearly 6,000 births, 30,000 admissions and 5,000 surgeries,” Dr. Minnick notes. But those people are not just numbers on a spreadsheet. “The buck stops with me for their safety and quality of care,” he observed in an interview about his experience in the Villanova University Fitzpatrick College of Nursing’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Program.
Dr. Minnick recognized that hospitals can harm patients and that there needed to be broader dialogue around safety. Examining the literature, he noted that safety huddles reduce re-admission rates and improve communication and transparency, as well as team member trust and event reporting. Thus, he chose for his DNP scholarly project “Creating a Safe Environment for Open Dialogue of Gaps in Patient Safety for Hospital Leadership Through the Implementation of a Daily Safety Huddle.”
Each weekday at 9:30 a.m., Dr. Minnick guides that Safety Huddle, focusing on early detection of errors that could lead to harm of hospitalized patients. For 15 efficient minutes, his department leaders stand together and follow a prescribed agenda. They report on any safety concerns from the previous 24 hours and any anticipated issues for the coming 24.
“Daily safety huddles provide a forum for interprofessional teams to analyze complex practice and organizational issues in a safe environment,” Dr. Minnick notes. As evaluation leads to even more improvements, he will continue to model the leadership behavior that fosters open dialogue on threats to patient safety.