Safer Patient Handoffs

Three Steps | Improving Patient Handoffs

June 27, 2015

Handoffs, also called 'handovers,' 'signouts,' or 'report,' are key to patient safety as communication errors at the time of care transitions are a significant source of medical errors. So how can healthcare provider organizations improve handoffs at transitions in patient care?

Handoffs are the moment when the professional responsibility for a patient transitions from one provider to another provider. For example from the physician on duty during the day to the physician that will be covering overnight or from one bedside nurse that gives report and signs out a patient to the nurse that will care for the patient on the next shift. Handoffs also occur as patients move from one area of the hospital to another, for example from the operating room to the intensive care unit, or from the intensive care unit to the floor.