Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 28, Issue 8, pp 986–993 | Cite as

Effect of a Systems Intervention on the Quality and Safety of Patient Handoffs in an Internal Medicine Residency Program

  • Kelly L. Graham
  • Edward R. Marcantonio
  • Grace C. Huang
  • Julius Yang
  • Roger B. Davis
  • C. Christopher Smith
Original Research

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND

Poor quality handoffs have been identified as a major patient safety issue.

In residency programs, problematic handoffs may be an unintended consequence of duty-hour restrictions, and key data are frequently omitted from written handoffs because of the lack of standardization of content.

OBJECTIVE

Determine whether an intervention that facilitates face-to-face communication supported by an electronic template improves the quality and safety of handoffs.

DESIGN

Before-after trial.

PARTICIPANTS

Thirty-nine interns providing nighttime coverage over 132 intern shifts, representing ∼9,200 handoffs.

INTERVENTIONS

Two interventions were implemented serially—an alteration of the shift model to facilitate face-to-face verbal communication between the primary and nighttime covering physicians and an electronic template for the day-to-night handoff.

MEASUREMENTS

Overall satisfaction and handoff quality were measured using a survey tool administered at the end of each intern shift. Written handoff quality, specifically the documentation of key components, was also assessed before and after the template intervention by study investigators. Interns used the survey tool to report patient safety events related to poor quality handoffs, which were validated by study investigators.

RESULTS

In adjusted analyses comparing intern cohorts with similar levels of training, overall satisfaction with the new handoff processes improved significantly (p < 0.001) post intervention. Verbal handoff quality (4/10 measures) and written handoff quality (5/6 measures) also improved significantly. Study investigators also found significant improvement in documentation of key components in the written handoff. Interns reported significantly fewer reported data omissions (p = 0.001) and a non-significant reduction in near misses (p = 0.056), but no significant difference in adverse events (p = 0.41) post intervention.

CONCLUSIONS

Redesign of shift models common in residency programs to minimize the number of handoffs and facilitate face-to-face communication, along with implementation of electronic handoff templates, improves the quality of handoffs in a learning environment.

KEY WORDS

hand-off transitions in care patient safety quality improvement graduate medical education systems-based practice communication continuity of care 

Supplementary material

11606_2013_2391_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (836 kb)
ESM 1(PDF 835 kb)

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Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kelly L. Graham
    • 1
    • 4
  • Edward R. Marcantonio
    • 1
    • 2
  • Grace C. Huang
    • 1
    • 3
  • Julius Yang
    • 1
  • Roger B. Davis
    • 1
  • C. Christopher Smith
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of General Medicine and Primary Care, Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical CenterHarvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  2. 2.Division of Gerontology, Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical CenterHarvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  3. 3.Carl J. Shapiro Institute for Education and Research at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical CenterBostonUSA
  4. 4.Harvard Medical School Fellowship in General Internal MedicineBeth Israel Deaconess Medical CenterBostonUSA

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