Handoff strategies in settings with high consequences for failure: lessons for health care operations

Int J Qual Health Care. 2004 Apr;16(2):125-32. doi: 10.1093/intqhc/mzh026.


Objective: To describe strategies employed during handoffs in four settings with high consequences for failure.

Analysis: of observational data for evidence of use of 21 handoff strategies.

Setting: NASA Johnson Space Center in Texas, nuclear power generation plants in Canada, a railroad dispatch center in the United States, and an ambulance dispatch center in Toronto.

Main measure: Evidence of 21 handoff strategies from observations and interviews.

Results: Nineteen of 21 strategies were used in at least one domain, on at least an 'as needed' basis.

Conclusions: An understanding of how handoffs are conducted in settings with high consequences for failure can jumpstart endeavors to modify handoffs to improve patient safety.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • Health Facility Administration*
  • Information Dissemination*
  • Organizational Case Studies
  • Private Sector
  • Risk
  • Safety
  • United States