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A Conceptual Framework for Studying the Safety of Transitions in Emergency Care.


In: Henriksen K1, Battles JB1, Marks ES2, Lewin DI1, editors.


Advances in Patient Safety: From Research to Implementation (Volume 2: Concepts and Methodology). Rockville (MD): Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (US); 2005 Feb.
Advances in Patient Safety.

Author information

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
US Department of Defense
College of Medicine, University of Florida (RLW, SJP), College of Business, Florida Atlantic University (RB), Department of Communication, University of South Florida (EE), Department of Communication, DePaul University (LM), College of Nursing, University of Florida (MV), Brown University (MS), Northwestern University (CB), Dalhousie University (PC), Rush Medical College (KC)


In health care organizations, the division of labor and a need for continuous, 24-hour treatment subjects patients to multiple transitions in care. These transitions, or “handovers,” are potential points of failure that have seen very little study. We observed transitions of care in five hospital emergency departments as part of a larger study on safety in emergency care and found that in addition to many other differences in work patterns among the various hospitals, very different sorts of handovers occurred in different contexts, and these differences appeared to reflect a common structure. Using these observations, we have proposed a conceptual framework for characterizing handover events. The ability to characterize certain types of transitions may help to clarify future studies, while assisting in the development of interventions to better fit the context of clinical work.

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