Study: Harm from patient handoffs is common

Transferring care of a hospitalized patient from one resident to another frequently causes harm to that patient, including some serious problems, according to new research. The study, which was published in the Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety, strengthens the conclusions of several previous studies suggesting that handoffs contribute to preventable injuries.

Based on a 2006 survey of 161 medical or surgical residents at Massachusetts General Hospital, the study found that more than half of those surveyed reported at least one incident of handoff-related patient harm during their month-long inpatient rotation. Meanwhile, about 12 percent said handoffs led to major patient harm, including significant worsening of clinical status and prolonged hospitalization. Also telling was that the overall quality of handoffs was rated "fair" or "poor" by one-third of the participants.

Most noted that the handoffs were largely conducted in a loud setting in which they were frequently interrupted. This reduced their ability to give complete and accurate information to patients, family members and colleagues, more than half of respondents said.

To learn more about this study:
- read this HealthDay News piece

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