Medliorate

Improving medical students

Developing an Approach to Patient Handoffs

Posted by medliorator on November 1, 2009

handoff

Pauline W. Chen, M.D.

I worry that I am playing some real-life medical version of the children’s game “Telephone” where the complexity of my patient’s care will be watered down, misinterpreted and possibly mangled with each re-telling.

While older patients with multiple chronic conditions will see up to 16 doctors a year, some of the healthiest younger patients I see count not only a primary care physician among their doctors but also a handful of specialists. Hospitalized patients, no longer cared for by their primary care doctors but by teams of fully trained doctors, or hospitalists, in addition to groups of doctors-in-training, are passed between doctors an average of 15 times during a single five-day hospitalization. And young doctors, with increasing time pressures from work hours reforms, will sign over as many as 300 patients in a single month during their first year of training.

researchers have begun looking for new ways to approach patient handoffs, studying other high-stakes shift-oriented industries like aviation, transportation and nuclear power, as well as other groups of clinicians.

By incorporating more efficient methods of communication, the hope is that patient care transitions will eventually become seamless and less subject to errors.

When Patient Handoffs Go Terribly Wrong [NYT Health]

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