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Injury. 2009 Apr;40(4):388-96. doi: 10.1016/j.injury.2008.10.006. Epub 2009 Feb 13.

Development of electronic software for the management of trauma patients on the orthopaedic unit.

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Department of Trauma and Orthopaedics, University College Hospital, London NW1 2PG, United Kingdom.



Continuity of patient care is an essential prerequisite for the successful running of a trauma surgery service. This is becoming increasingly difficult because of the new working arrangements of junior doctors. Handover is now central to ensure continuity of care following shift change over. The purpose of this study was to compare the quality of information handed over using the traditional ad hoc method of a handover sheet versus a web-based electronic software programme. It was hoped that through improved quality of handover the new system would have a positive impact on clinical care, risk and time management.


Data was prospectively collected and analyzed using the SPSS 14 statistical package. The handover data of 350 patients using a paper-based system was compared to the data of 357 cases using the web-based system. Key data included basic demographic data, responsible surgeon, location of patient, injury site including site, whether fractures were open or closed, concomitant injuries and the treatment plan. A survey was conducted amongst health care providers to assess the impact of the new software.


With the introduction of the electronic handover system, patients with missing demographic data reduced from 35.1% to 0.8% (p<0.0001) and missing patient location from 18.6% to 3.6% (p<0.0001). Missing consultant information and missing diagnosis dropped from 12.9% to 2.0% (p<0.0001) and from 11.7% to 0.8% (p<0.0001), respectively. The missing information regarding side and anatomical site of the injury was reduced from 31.4% to 0.8% (p<0.0001) and from 13.7% to 1.1% (p<0.0001), respectively. In 96.6% of paper ad hoc handovers it was not stated whether the injury was 'closed' or 'open', whereas in the electronic group this information was evident in all 357 patients (p<0.0001). A treatment plan was included only in 52.3% of paper handovers compared to 94.7% (p<0.0001) of electronic handovers. A survey revealed 96% of members of the trauma team felt an improvement of handover since the introduction of the software, and 94% of members were satisfied with the software.


The findings of our study show that the use of web-based electronic software is effective in facilitating and improving the quality of information passed during handover. Structured software also aids in improving work flow amongst the trauma team. We argue that an improvement in the quality of handover is an improvement in clinical practice.

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