24 April 2015

Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital Institutes “Tutu Tuesday”

Thorough audits that involve all staff equally are the best way to improve hospital processes. But while these rigorous process improvement frameworks are at the core of what we do, we also realize that good ideas often come from less structured origins.

One of our partner hospitals, Joe DiMaggio Children's in Hollywood, Fla., reminded us of this when they instituted “Tutu Tuesday.” Joe DiMaggio has a long history of innovation in pediatric surgical care, especially when it comes to patients with autism – but Tutu Tuesday is a little different.

In contrast to their rigorous and well-documented autism procedures, the creation of Tutu Tuesday was a bit more serendipitous. It all started when operating room assistant Tony Smith wanted to make one of his pediatric patients a little less nervous before surgery. To make the preoperative process more light-hearted, Tony decided he'd put on a multi-colored tutu over his scrubs.

The patient loved it, and that simple, silly idea ended up going a long way to improve his experience. Smith never imagined that this small gesture would end up spreading through the department and improving dozens of patients' surgeries – and he certainly didn't foresee that it would catch the attention of the national news media, including ABC News, NBC TODAY and dozens more.

Tutu Tuesday teaches us that, sometimes, process improvements that improve patient experience can come from the most unexpected places – and are almost always a little unorthodox. As Smith told ABC News: “Seeing you in a tutu brightens [patients'] day, and it can keep them from thinking about what's really going on.”