Background Medication is the most prevalent therapeutic intervention in patient management.1 Medication errors are incidents that have occurred in the medication cycle of prescribing, dispensing, administering, monitoring, or providing medicines advice, regardless of whether they caused harm.1 In a hospital setting, medication error rates are similar amongst adults and children but there is three times the potential to cause harm in the latter. Due to the complexities that are associated with prescribing for children and the potential for the lack of necessary metabolic reserves to buffer any consequences,2 ensuring high quality prescribing in paediatrics is paramount and this requires multidisciplinary team (MDT) collaboration. Pharmacy contributions: The introduction of weekly Safety Huddles was started on the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) in March 2017 – led by the PICU consultant, paediatric risk nurse and pharmacist. Safety Huddles are short MDT briefings, involving the ward-based medical, nursing & pharmacy teams, providing a platform for all staff to understand things that are happening within the ward and anticipate further risks to improve patient safety and care. The aim is to create an open environment where staff regularly communicate and feel safe to raise concerns about patient safety. The Safety Huddle comprises of three main aspects: pharmacy updates as ‘top tips’; Datix incident reports and issues/concerns of the week. Pharmacy interventions are collected on a daily basis and fed back to the individual prescriber immediately where possible as the exchange of information must be rapid to optimise engagement. These then form the weekly ‘top tips’ which are shared with the whole MDT, along with Datix reports and any particular concerns where learning and action points are developed and agreed through contribution by all.
Outcome The concept of Safety Huddles has been adapted and fully established throughout all paediatric and neonatal specialities at the Trust. There has been an increase in the number of incidents reported since the implementation of the Safety Huddles. Error themes and their impact are looked at so the team learn from improvement and harm occurrence or near misses. The measurement of interventions provides a weekly update to the individual team to see if these are being carried out effectively and to improve where necessary. It allows identification of triggers and incorporates problem solving through the involvement of all members of the team, improving staff, patient and family experience and communication in addition to reducing harm, allowing Trust values to be met. Lessons learned: Safety Huddles are held in the spirit of learning and improvement. It allows integration with the wider team, empowering the team to work unanimously towards the ultimate goal of delivering the best patient care.
Department of Health and Social Care. The Report of the Short Life Working Group on reducing medication- related harm. February 2018.
Department of Health. Medicines Standard: National Service Framework for Children, Young People and Maternity Services. October 2004.
Department of Health. Building a Safer NHS or Patients: Improving Medication Safety. January 2004.
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