A survey of handoff practices in emergency medicine

Am J Med Qual. Sep-Oct 2014;29(5):408-14. doi: 10.1177/1062860613503364. Epub 2013 Sep 26.


This study aimed to assess practices in emergency department (ED) handoffs as perceived by emergency medicine (EM) residency program directors and other senior-level faculty and to determine if there are deficits in resident handoff training. This cross-sectional survey study was guided by the Kern model for medical curriculum development. A 12-member Council of Emergency Medicine Residency Directors (CORD) Transitions in Care task force of EM physicians performed these steps and constructed a survey. The survey was distributed to the CORD listserv. There were 147 responses to the anonymous survey, which were collected using an online tool. At least 41% of the 158 American College of Graduate Medical Education EM residency programs were represented. More than half (56.6%) of responding EM physicians reported that their ED did not use a standardized handoff. There also exists a dearth of formal handoff training and handoff proficiency assessments for EM residents.

Keywords: handoff; shift change; sign-out; transfer of care; transitions in care.

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency / statistics & numerical data
  • Patient Handoff / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States