Implementation of a structured information transfer checklist improves postoperative data transfer after congenital cardiac surgery

Eur J Anaesthesiol. 2013 Dec;30(12):764-9. doi: 10.1097/EJA.0b013e328361d3bb.


Background: During one hospital stay, a patient can be cared for by five different units. With patient transfer from one unit to another, it is of prime importance to convey a complete picture of the patient's situation to minimise the risk of medical errors and to provide optimal patient care.

Objective(s): This study was designed to test the hypothesis that the implementation of a standardised checklist used during verbal patient handover could improve postoperative data transfer after congenital cardiac surgery.

Design: Prospective, pre/postinterventional clinical study.

Setting: Cardiac centre of a university hospital.

Patients: Forty-eight patients younger than 16 years undergoing heart surgery.

Interventions: A standardised checklist was developed containing all data that, according to the investigators, should be communicated during the handover of a paediatric cardiac surgery patient from the operating room to the ICU.

Main outcome measures: Data transfer during the postoperative handover before and after implementation of the checklist was evaluated. Duration of handover, number of interruptions, number of irrelevant data and number of confusing pieces of information were noted. Assessment of the handover process by ICU medical and nursing staff was quantified.

Results: After implementation of the information transfer checklist, the overall data transfer increased from 48 to 73% (P < 0.001). The duration of data transfer decreased from a median (range) of 6 (2 to 16) to 4 min (2 to 19) (P = 0.04). The overall handover assessment by the intensive care nursing staff improved significantly after implementation of the checklist.

Conclusion: Implementation of an information transfer checklist in postoperative paediatric cardiac surgery patients resulted in a more complete transfer of information, with a decrease in the handover duration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Cardiac Surgical Procedures / methods*
  • Checklist*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Continuity of Patient Care / standards
  • Female
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / surgery*
  • Hospital Departments
  • Hospitals, University
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intensive Care Units, Pediatric
  • Male
  • Medical Errors / prevention & control*
  • Patient Transfer / methods
  • Postoperative Period
  • Prospective Studies
  • Time Factors