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Improving end-of-rotation transitions of care among ICU patients


Background Hospitalised patients whose inpatient teams rotate off service experience increased mortality related to end-of-rotation care transitions, yet standardised handoff practices are lacking.

Objective Develop and implement a multidisciplinary patient-centred handoff intervention to improve outcomes for patients who are critically ill during end-of-rotation transitions.

Design, setting and participants Single-centre, controlled pilot study of medical intensive care unit (ICU) patients whose resident team was undergoing end-of-rotation transition at a university hospital from June 2017 to February 2018.

Intervention A 4-item intervention was implemented over two study periods. Intervention 1 included: (1) in-person bedside handoff between teams rotating off and on service, (2) handoff checklist, (3) nursing involvement in handoff, and (4) 30 min education session. Intervention 2 included the additional option to conduct bedside handoff via videoconferencing.

Main outcome measures Implementation was measured by repeated clinician surveys and direct observation. Patient outcomes included length of stay (LOS; ICU and hospital) and mortality (ICU, hospital and 30 days). Clinician perceptions were modelled over time using per cent positive responses in logistic regression. Patient outcomes were compared with matched control ‘transition’ patients from 1 year prior to implementation of the intervention.

Results Among 270 transition patients, 46.3% were female with a mean age of 55.9 years. Mechanical ventilation (64.1%) and in-hospital death (27.6%) rates were prevalent. Despite high implementation rates—handoff participation (93.8%), checklist utilisation (75.0%), videoconferencing (62.5%), nursing involvement (75.0%)—the intervention did not significantly improve LOS or mortality. Multidisciplinary survey data revealed significant improvement in acceptability by nursing staff, while satisfaction significantly declined for resident physicians.

Conclusions In this controlled pilot study, a structured ICU end-of-rotation care transition strategy was feasible to implement with high fidelity. While mortality and LOS were not affected in a pilot study with limited power, the pragmatic strategy of this intervention holds promise for future trials.

  • hand-off
  • transitions in care
  • patient safety
  • critical care
  • checklists

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