Standardizing nightly huddles with surgical residents and nurses to improve interdisciplinary communication and teamwork

Am J Surg. 2020 May;219(5):769-775. doi: 10.1016/j.amjsurg.2020.03.002. Epub 2020 Mar 10.


Background: Clear and effective communication supports interdisciplinary teamwork and prevents adverse patient events. At our academic teaching hospital, poor communication between surgical residents and nurses was identified as a recurring problem, particularly on the inpatient general surgery night float rotation.

Methods: A standardized nightly huddle with surgical residents and nurses was developed and implemented as a resident-led quality improvement initiative on two acute care units. The huddle was evaluated with pre/post surveys of nurses and residents, as well as analysis of paging volume and rapid response events.

Results: Nightly huddles significantly improved nurses' perception of interdisciplinary teamwork and communication (p < 0.00005). With nightly huddles, significantly more nurses were able to identify and name the on-duty night float resident at the end of a 4-week rotation (p < 0.00005). Nurses perceived a positive impact on patient care and work environment. There were no changes in the number of nighttime pages or rapid responses.

Conclusion: With night float rotations becoming a standard part of residency training, standardized huddles can enhance nighttime collaboration between residents and nurses.

Keywords: Handoffs; Interdisciplinary communication; Night float; Physician nurse collaboration; Quality improvement.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Female
  • General Surgery / education*
  • Humans
  • Interdisciplinary Communication*
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Male
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital*
  • Patient Care Team / standards*
  • Personnel Staffing and Scheduling
  • Quality Improvement*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Workload