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Acad Med. 2012 Apr;87(4):403-10. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e318248e5c2.

Handoffs in the era of duty hours reform: a focused review and strategy to address changes in the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education Common Program Requirements.

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  • 1Division of Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine, Duke University Hospital, Durham, North Carolina, USA.


With changes in the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) Common Program Requirements related to transitions in care effective July 1, 2011, sponsoring institutions and training programs must develop a common structure for transitions in care as well as comprehensive curricula to teach and evaluate patient handoffs. In response to these changes, within the Duke University Health System, the resident-led Graduate Medical Education Patient Safety and Quality Council performed a focused review of the handoffs literature and developed a plan for comprehensive handoff education and evaluation for residents and fellows at Duke. The authors present the results of their focused review, concentrating on the three areas of new ACGME expectations--structure, education, and evaluation--and describe how their findings informed the broader initiative to comprehensively address transitions in care managed by residents and fellows. The process of developing both institution-level and program-level initiatives is reviewed, including the development of an interdisciplinary minimal data set for handoff core content, training and education programs, and an evaluation strategy. The authors believe the final plan fully addresses both Duke's internal goals and the revised ACGME Common Program Requirements and may serve as a model for other institutions to comprehensively address transitions in care and to incorporate resident and fellow leadership into a broad, health-system-level quality improvement initiative.

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