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Neurology. 2012 Sep 4;79(10):1060-4. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e318265a698. Epub 2012 Aug 8.

Standardized sign-out improves completeness and perceived accuracy of inpatient neurology handoffs.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA. briandmoseley@gmail.com



As residency programs adjust to new duty hour restrictions, the use of cross-coverage systems requiring handoffs will rise. Handoffs are vulnerable to communication failures when unstructured. Accordingly, we implemented a standardized sign-out process on our inpatient neurology services and assessed its effect on completeness and perceived accuracy of handoffs.


Residents spent the first half of their rotations utilizing unstructured sign-out. They transitioned to a structured sign-out system (using the situation-background-assessment-recommendation format) during the second half of their rotations. We analyzed survey responses before and after implementation to evaluate for an effect.


Residents utilizing structured sign-out were significantly more likely to share test results with patients/families prior to shift changes (p = 0.037), update our electronic service list (p = 0.045), and feel all important data were being transmitted (p = 0.041). Overall satisfaction (scale 1-10) increased from 6.2 ± 1.6 to 7.4 ± 1.3 (p = 0.002).


Our findings demonstrate that standardized sign-out improves the completeness and perceived accuracy of handoffs. Such improvement has the potential to improve patient safety and quality of care.

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[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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