Handoffs and communication: the underappreciated roles of situational awareness and inattentional blindness

Clin Obstet Gynecol. 2010 Sep;53(3):545-58. doi: 10.1097/GRF.0b013e3181ec1ac7.


We are all "hard wired" to have limited ability to quickly and accurately communicate and work with each other. These limitations are especially acute in our urgent, stressful, and interruption-filled world. New views on these limitations include phenomena-like situational awareness and inattentional blindness. Development and testing of communication tools and interventions to improve communication and handoffs has undergone some research evaluation, but is mainly evidence-guided. Understanding human limitations in ability to communicate will help us create, test, and continually judge communication tools, especially automation and team training.

MeSH terms

  • Attention
  • Awareness*
  • Communication*
  • Continuity of Patient Care*
  • Guidelines as Topic
  • Humans
  • Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations
  • Medical Errors / prevention & control
  • Patient Care Team*
  • Quality of Health Care
  • Safety Management*
  • Societies
  • United States