Improving Transfer of Care Between Psychiatrists and Residents: Participants' Perspective on the Implementation of a Handover Protocol in a Psychiatric Emergency

Acad Psychiatry. 2022 Feb;46(1):114-119. doi: 10.1007/s40596-021-01472-5. Epub 2021 May 10.


Objectives: Handover refers to the transfer of information from one professional to another during transitions of care. I-PASS is a mnemonic tool which stands for Illness severity; Patient summary; Action list; Situation awareness and contingency planning; and Synthesis by receiver. It was developed to standardize the handover process. Psychiatrists, nurses, and residents at the Montreal Jewish General Hospital psychiatric emergency were trained and the I-PASS handover model was implemented.

Methods: Thirty-one psychiatrists, nurses, and residents participated in this quality improvement project. Participants filled a pre-training questionnaire to examine the baseline status of handovers before attending a training session on I-PASS. Participants then filled a second questionnaire assessing the perceived quality of the handover training session, as well as anticipated benefits and challenges of I-PASS prior to its implementation. Finally, following implementation, two focus groups were held to collect feedback from participants.

Results: Pre-training, most participants reported that information provided during handovers was incomplete. Training was overall much appreciated. The most significant anticipated obstacle for implementing I-PASS was lack of time to properly fill out the form. Post-implementation, participants unanimously reported an improvement in the handover process. Handovers were perceived as faster, providing all key information about patients, and the perceived quality of the information was better.

Conclusion: Overall, the implementation of the I-PASS handover model was much appreciated by participants, who perceived that handovers were more comprehensive, efficient, and of better quality.

Keywords: Emergency psychiatry; Handoff; Handover; Quality improvement.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Patient Handoff*
  • Psychiatry*
  • Quality Improvement
  • Surveys and Questionnaires