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Transitions in hospital care can occur many times in the course of a patient’s treatment. Good communication between providers during patient transitions is essential. Communication breakdowns—compounded by human factors such as fatigue, distractions, and reliance on memory—are common threads noted in healthcare provider claims. Standardizing the handoff process has been shown to lower rates of perceived near-miss events and adverse outcomes.
Human errors during care transitions are multiplied when workload, hour restrictions, or other factors increase the number of handoffs.
Patients want and need to understand who is taking care of them. In restaurants, servers are typically trained in how to make the transition: The current server introduces the new server personally, and lets the patron know that the new server is now attending the table. This same technique works well with patients. A hospitalized patient can be overwhelmed when a new caregiver comes into the room. Without proper introductions and good handoffs, the patient can easily become confused—which puts you at risk.
Understanding where and how gaps occur in your handoff communications is essential due to today’s fragmentation of care. Any care provider that passes off the patient to another plays a key role in improving this aspect of patient safety.
The guidelines suggested here are not rules, do not constitute legal advice, and do not ensure a successful outcome. The ultimate decision regarding the appropriateness of any treatment must be made by each healthcare provider considering the circumstances of the individual situation and in accordance with the laws of the jurisdiction in which the care is rendered.