ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202205.0202.v2
Subject: Medicine & Pharmacology, General Medical Research Keywords: Clinical handover; Patient Handoff; Patient transfer; Referral and Consultation; Medical Records Systems; Computerized; Patient Safety; Risk Management; Attitude; Institutional Practice
Online: 31 May 2022 (07:14:42 CEST)
Background: Handover is a critical process for ensuring quality and safety in healthcare. Considerable research suggests that poor handover results in significant morbidity, mortality, dissatisfaction, and excess financial costs. Despite this, little formal attention, education, and evaluation has been given to handover. There is also paucity of data on the opinions of practitioners on the safety of handover.Objectives: The aim of this study was to measure the perceived risk, degree of patient harm and the systems used to support handover, and to understand how this varied by care setting, type of clinical practice, location, or level of experience. Methods: An open, anonymous and confidential online questionnaire covering: (a) respondent characteristics; (b) peer-to-peer handover; (c) internal referrals; (d) discharges and transfers between organisations; and (e) leading and improving handover was conducted with healthcare practitioners and managers from various settings. Results: We gathered a total of 432 completed responses from 26 countries. The average reported performance of handover was rated as 3.9 out of 5.For each type of handover, 12 - 14% reported errors occurring more than weekly. Of those that knew the outcome of such errors, between 29% and 34% reported that they had witnessed moderate or severe harm. 12% and 17% of respondents believed that handover was high or very high risk (See table 4). These respondents were more likely to have witnessed moderate or severe harm, or to be more senior.A wide combination of handover systems was utilised by respondents. 28% - 32% relied exclusively on EPRs (with or without face-to-face contact). 21% used Office documents such as Word and Excel for peer-to-peer handover, and over 30% used hand-written or manual systems. Conclusions: This study suggests the need to do more — and go further — to improve communication and reduce risk during all types of handovers. Clinical leaders should find ways to train and support handover with effective systems, with less experienced staff being the primary focus. More research is needed to demonstrate the interventions that improve the safety of handover.