Safer Patient Handoffs

Use of a Standardized Handover Template In General Surgery Improves The Quality of Information on Handoff Reports

May 25, 2015

A recent study appearing in the Journal of Patient Safety on May 21, 2015 examined the impact of having the general surgery department of a hospital in the United Kingdom utilize a standardized form for sign outs between surgeons coming on and off duty.

In the study, a baseline assessment of surgical handoff or handover reports was conducted. After this baseline assessment, a new standardized handoff form, developed in accordance with guidelines for handovers from the Royal College of Surgeons, was introduced. The authors state the forms were circulated among the department members and were made readily available on the wards. Six weeks after this intervention, the authors conducted a post intervention audit assessing the categories of information appearing on the handover reports as compared to those prior to the intervention. The authors found that by making the standardized form available several categories of data were more likely to appear on the handoff reports at a level of significance. These included patient location, outstanding clinical tasks, and documentation of blood results.

The author's findings suggest that the use of a standardized handoff form by general surgeons can improve compliance with Royal College of Surgeon handover guidelines.