Developing a Standardized and Sustainable Resident Sign-Out Process: An AIAMC National Initiative IV Project

Ochsner J. 2014 Winter;14(4):563-8.


Background: Duty hour restrictions imposed upon training physicians have led to increased handoffs and the potential for discontinuity in patient care. Research has demonstrated a significant opportunity for decreasing errors with a standardized handoff process. Thus, we designed a project to implement a standardized approach to handoffs, specifically resident-to-resident handoffs.

Methods: We performed an initial assessment of the tools, practices, and policies currently in use to facilitate handoffs institutionally. Subsequently, we created a template within our electronic medical record and paired it with a verbal handoff process. We developed a plan to build department champions to disseminate information and provide mentorship. We intend to evaluate this process at designated intervals to ensure sustainability.

Results: Survey results were obtained from 45 faculty and 61 residents from a wide representation of specialties. We found that although a subjective sense of satisfaction was present, there was substantial variability between processes. Seventy-two percent of faculty reported at least once identifying a patient safety issue that occurred as a result of the handoff process, but 77% of faculty sometimes or never supervised the process. Eighty percent of residents reported sometimes or never receiving feedback on their handoffs.

Conclusions: Based on medicine's evolving environment and an apparent opportunity to optimize resident training and patient safety, we developed a plan to standardize, implement, and evaluate resident handoffs within our system. The results thus far have resulted in a gap analysis that will serve as the basis for reporting finalized data at the conclusion of this prospective study.

Keywords: Patient handoff; patient safety.