Nav: Home

Moving toward a gold standard in patient handoff protocols

November 01, 2016

You're in the hospital under around-the-clock care for whatever it is that ails you. During any 24-hour period, your physicians and nursing staff will change shifts at least once. When those shift changes occur, those going off shift will need to hand over information about the status of your condition to incoming staff clearly and accurately, or something could go seriously wrong - and things do frequently go wrong. According to a 2012 report by the Joint Commission, "an estimated 80% of serious medical errors involve miscommunication between caregivers during the transfer of patients."

The Joint Commission has called for standardization in how handoffs are conducted, regardless of the tools caregivers use - checklists, computerized sign-out systems, mnemonics, and so on. Establishing an unambiguous standard that results in positive outcomes for patients, caregivers, and organizations requires careful evaluation of the various protocols that have been developed and studied.

In their upcoming Human Factors meta-analysis conducted for that purpose, Joseph Keebler and colleagues from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Wichita State University, and Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, sifted through thousands of published reports to arrive at a small set of field studies pointing to what makes a handoff protocol successful. The researchers found that protocols that include 12 or more pieces of information (e.g., allergies, chief complaint, current medications) resulted in more details being passed to caregivers coming on shift.

Analyzing about 30,000 participants over 100,000 measured data points, this meta-analysis is the first of its kind in regard to attempting to summarize the vast handoff literature. The researchers note that their meta-analysis "provides good evidence for the general benefit of using handoff protocols, regardless of setting or protocol type." Protocols go a long way toward removing subjectivity about what constitutes important details regard a patient's care, fostering a shared mental model among caregivers, and eliminating the need to rely on memory alone. Nevertheless, Keebler et al. found evidence that implementing handoff protocols can sometimes increase the time in transition between caregivers and/or result in the omission of information.
-end-
Media representatives may obtain a copy of the article on request: "Meta-Analyses of the Effects of Standardized handoff Protocols on Patient, Provider, and Organizational Outcomes" by Joseph R. Keelber, Elizabeth H. Lazzara, Brady S. Patzer, Evan M. Palmer, Victoria Lew, Sara Fouquet, Y. Raymond Chan, and Robert Riss. Contact HFES Communications Director Lois Smith (310/394-1811, lois@hfes.org).

The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society is the world's largest scientific association for human factors/ergonomics professionals, with more than 4,500 members globally. HFES members include psychologists and other scientists, designers, and engineers, all of whom have a common interest in designing systems and equipment to be safe and effective for the people who operate and maintain them. "Human Factors and Ergonomics: People-Friendly Design Through Science and Engineering."

Human Factors and Ergonomics Society

Related Caregivers Articles:

Dementia caregivers' stress leads to sleep deprivation
New Edith Cowan University (ECU) research has found 94 per cent of Australians caring for a loved one with dementia are sleep deprived.
Family caregiving may not harm health of caregivers after all
For decades, family caregiving has been thought to create a type of chronic stress that may lead to significant health risks or even death, alarming potential caregivers and presenting a guilt-ridden obstacle for those needing help.
Do ER caregivers' on-the-job emotions affect patient care?
Doctors and nurses in emergency departments at four academic centers and four community hospitals in the Northeast reported a wide range of emotions triggered by patients, hospital resources and societal factors, according to a qualitative study led by a University of Massachusetts Amherst social psychologist.
Self-help groups empower caregivers of children with disabilities
Caregivers in low-income settings will be able to respond to the challenges of bringing up children with disabilities, thanks to a new model created by the University of East Anglia (UEA) and the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI).
When caregivers need care
People who regularly care for or assist a family member or friend with a health problem or disability are more likely to neglect their own health, particularly by not having insurance or putting off necessary health services due to cost, according to a study published by the American Psychological Association.
Symptoms of depression in caregivers may predict future health problems
Caregivers of stroke survivors who show signs of depression may have a higher risk of suffering their own health challenges down the line, according to research presented today at ESC Congress 2019 together with the World Congress of Cardiology.
Caregivers of people with dementia are losing sleep
Caregivers of people with dementia lose between 2.5 to 3.5 hours of sleep weekly due to difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep -- a negative for themselves and potentially for those in their care, according to Baylor University research published in JAMA Network Open.
Teaching happiness to dementia caregivers reduces their depression, anxiety
Caring for family members with dementia -- which is on the rise in the US -- causes significant emotional and physical stress that increases caregivers' risk of depression, anxiety and death.
Study: Mindfulness may help decrease stress in caregivers of veterans
Caregivers of veterans who engaged in mindfulness-based cognitive therapy found it relieved stress, anxiety and worry, according to a new study led by University of Illinois kinesiology and community health professor Sandraluz Lara-Cinisomo.
Caring for an older adult with cancer comes with emotional challenges for caregivers, too
Until now, no large study has evaluated whether or not caring for older adults with advanced cancer is linked to caregivers' emotional health or to their quality of life.
More Caregivers News and Caregivers Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: The Power Of Spaces
How do spaces shape the human experience? In what ways do our rooms, homes, and buildings give us meaning and purpose? This hour, TED speakers explore the power of the spaces we make and inhabit. Guests include architect Michael Murphy, musician David Byrne, artist Es Devlin, and architect Siamak Hariri.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#576 Science Communication in Creative Places
When you think of science communication, you might think of TED talks or museum talks or video talks, or... people giving lectures. It's a lot of people talking. But there's more to sci comm than that. This week host Bethany Brookshire talks to three people who have looked at science communication in places you might not expect it. We'll speak with Mauna Dasari, a graduate student at Notre Dame, about making mammals into a March Madness match. We'll talk with Sarah Garner, director of the Pathologists Assistant Program at Tulane University School of Medicine, who takes pathology instruction out of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

What If?
There's plenty of speculation about what Donald Trump might do in the wake of the election. Would he dispute the results if he loses? Would he simply refuse to leave office, or even try to use the military to maintain control? Last summer, Rosa Brooks got together a team of experts and political operatives from both sides of the aisle to ask a slightly different question. Rather than arguing about whether he'd do those things, they dug into what exactly would happen if he did. Part war game part choose your own adventure, Rosa's Transition Integrity Project doesn't give us any predictions, and it isn't a referendum on Trump. Instead, it's a deeply illuminating stress test on our laws, our institutions, and on the commitment to democracy written into the constitution. This episode was reported by Bethel Habte, with help from Tracie Hunte, and produced by Bethel Habte. Jeremy Bloom provided original music. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.     You can read The Transition Integrity Project's report here.