Patient transfers a potentially serious problem

Despite the fact that patient "handoffs" are common as patients move from doctor to doctor within the healthcare system, few clinicians have formal training in the finer points and possible pitfalls involved. A team led by Indiana School of Medicine professor Richard Frankel found that the safest form of transfer is a "face-to-face" meeting which, of course, rarely happens anymore. Frankel argues that handoffs represent a little noticed but real risk, posing the potential for serious mistakes due to miscommunication. The study appears in the December issue of Academic Medicine.

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