Resident handoff training: initial evaluation of a novel method

J Healthc Qual. Jan-Feb 2015;37(1):75-80. doi: 10.1097/01.JHQ.0000460124.98684.19.


Introduction: Residencies are required to have a standardized process for transitioning patient care. This study was designed to assess a novel method of training and evaluating handoffs using both a lecture format and standardized patient (SP) interactions.

Methods: Matched group design was used to randomly assign interns to trained versus control groups, with the trained group receiving formal handoff training before SP encounters. The residents evaluated three ER SPs and read four written scenarios and then transitioned patients to an SP acting as a resident. All handoffs were videotaped and scored by two blind raters using a rating scale developed based on specialist's interviews.

Results: Thirty-two interns were included in the study. The trained interns performed significantly better with lower scores on patient handoffs (mean = 10.08, SD = 2.46) than the untrained interns (mean = 16.56, SD = 2.79). There was also a significant effect for case, with the ER SP cases (mean = 12.23, SD = 14.41) resulting in better performance than the written cases in both surgery and pediatrics (mean = 14.41, SD = 4.29).

Conclusions: A protocol was designed and implemented for training residents to perform handoffs, with initial results showing that the curriculum is effective.

MeSH terms

  • Emergency Service, Hospital / organization & administration*
  • General Surgery / education
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency / methods*
  • Medical Errors / prevention & control
  • Patient Handoff*
  • Pediatrics / education
  • Problem-Based Learning