Web-Based Handoff Tool Markedly Reduced Medical Errors

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Stephanie Mueller, MD MPH FHM Division of General Medicine Brigham and Women's Hospital Boston, MA 02120

Dr. Stephanie Mueller

Stephanie Mueller, MD MPH FHM
Division of General Medicine
Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Boston, MA 02120

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? 

Response: Failures in communication among healthcare personnel are known threats to patient safety, and occur all too commonly during times of care transition, such as when patient care responsibility is transferred from one provider to another (i.e., handoff). Such failures in communication put patients at risk for adverse outcomes.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response: In this study we implemented a web-based handoff tool and provider training, and evaluated the impact on medical error rates. We found that this intervention was associated with a 51% reduction in overall medical error rates, a 60% reduction in error rates due to communication failures and 48% reduction in those related to end-of-shift handoffs.

Additionally we demonstrated that our intervention appeared synergistic (or at least additive) with a concurrent quality improvement initiative regionalizing care teams on the general medicine services, suggesting effectiveness of this intervention in a real-world context.

Though the web-based tool utilized proprietary software, the components of this tool are easily adaptable to other sites, including those working with different vendor electronic medical records. Additionally, the other components of the intervention, including the TeamSTEPPS teamwork training and the use I-PASS mnemonic have been successfully used across a variety of sites and settings. Thus we believe this type of intervention could be generalizable to other sites looking to do the same.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: In light of growing sophistication of Health IT applications, we recommend that future research continues to examine how health IT can support communication during care transitions to improve patient outcomes. Specifically, handoffs in care are uniquely suited to this type of support given their high frequency in a variety of clinical settings and evolving research supporting best practices that can be utilized to guide development and modification of such platforms.

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Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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Last Updated on August 4, 2016 by Marie Benz MD FAAD