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An institution-wide handoff task force to standardise and improve physician handoffs


Background Transfers of care have become increasingly frequent and complex with shorter inpatient stays and changes in work hour regulations. Potential hazards exist with transfers. There are few reports of institution-wide efforts to improve handoffs.

Methods An institution-wide physician handoff task force was developed to proactively address issues surrounding handoffs and to ensure a consistent approach to handoffs across the institution.

Results This report discusses the authors' experiences with handoff standardisation, provider utilisation of a new electronic medical record-based handoff tool, and implementation of an educational curriculum; future work in developing hospital-wide policies and procedures for transfers; and the authors' consensus on the best methods for monitoring and evaluation of trainee handoffs.

Conclusion The handoff task force infrastructure has enabled the authors to take an institution-wide approach to improving handoffs. The task force has improved patient care by addressing handoffs systematically and consistently and has helped create new strategies for minimising risk in handoffs.

  • Handoff
  • transition of care
  • sign-out
  • internship and residency
  • quality improvement
  • communication
  • duty hours/work hours
  • hand-off
  • transitions in care
  • surgery
  • safety culture
  • quality improvement

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