Study: Involving patients in nurses' shift change improves outcomes, prevents errors

When incoming and outgoing nurses actively involve their patients in shift changes--a practice known as bedside handover--it can reduce medical errors and improve outcomes and patient experience, according to a new study published in the Journal of Nursing Care Quality.

"The start and end of a nurse's shift are critical moments," lead author Lianne Jeffs, Ph.D., volunteer association chair in nursing research at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, said in a statement. "Having handover take place at the bedside with patients is better for everyone, but especially for our patients. It means they have a voice, better understand their treatment and are engaged in their care."

Nurses have traditionally shared patient information during shift changes via tape recordings or verbal briefings. But researchers say bedside handover ensures that patients are present during the information-sharing. The team conducted qualitative interviews with 45 patients for the study and found the handover gives patients the opportunity to clarify information and ask questions with both nurses present, which has a documented effect on both patient satisfaction and anxiety, according to the statement.

"When we did handover at the nursing station, we had to begin prioritizing our patients' care before we'd ever met them," said Terri Irwin, St. Michael's Hospital's professional practice leader in nursing, in the statement. "By seeing patients right away, nurses can assess all their patients' conditions and prioritize care within the first 15 minutes of our shift."

Involving patients in their care can have a positive effect on readmission rates. An October study found that patients with substantial knowledge, skills and confidence about their condition were significantly less likely to be readmitted within 30 days, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

To learn more:
- here's the study abstract and announcement