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Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2011 Jul;37(7):300-8.

Improving follow-up of high-risk psychiatry outpatients at resident year-end transfer.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco, School of Medcine, San Francisco, USA.



Few studies have examined the safety risks of the annual outpatient clinic handoffthat occurs when residents either advance to a higher level of training or graduate ("year-end transfer"). A multifaceted intervention was designed and implemented to identify and improve followup of high-risk patients during academic year-end outpatient transfers in a psychiatry resident continuity clinic.


Departing residents identified "acute" patients, who were scheduled on a priority basis for longer appointments during the first month after the transfer. In addition, standardized written and face-to-face sign-outs occurred, incoming clinicians contacted every patient in the first week, and specialized didactics were provided.


For the three intervention years combined, the odds ratio of hospitalization for acute patients compared to nonacute patients was 9.2 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 2.43, 34.7; p = .001). Compared to Year 1, the proportion of acute patients seen within 31 days in Years 2 and 3 increased by 32.2% (from 64.3% to 85.0%, p < .0001). The median time-to-first visit for acute patients decreased by 42% (from 24 days in Year 1 to 14 days in Year 3, p = .001). Finally, resident perception of the quality of the handoffim-proved in all areas compared to baseline, including resident-to-resident communication (2.8 to 3.0, p = .03), accuracy of caseload lists (2.8 to 4.1,p = .003), identification of high-risk patients (2.1 to 3.7, p < .0001), and usefulness of supervision during the transition (2.7 to 4.3, p < .0001).


Categorical designation by the outgoing clinicians effectively identified patients at higher risk for hospitalization during the transition. Relatively low-cost interventions may significantly improve patient safety and resident training in not only psychiatry, but also other disciplines and specialties.

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