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Air Med J. 2013 Jan-Feb;32(1):40-6. doi: 10.1016/j.amj.2012.06.005.

Making good better: implementing a standardized handoff in pediatric transport.

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Department of Pediatrics, Akron Children's Hospital, Akron, OH 44308, USA.



Failures in communication lead to adverse events in healthcare. Handoffs, defined as the transfer of information, responsibility, and authority from one provider to another, have been identified as a cause of communication failure compromising patient safety. Locally, there was dissatisfaction among caregivers working on the general care and intensive care units regarding the quality of information received from the pediatric transport team for transferred patients.


Using the Model for Improvement, a quality improvement team was engaged to lead this improvement effort. The team developed a standardized and scripted transport handoff process that incorporated parental input. The primary measure was provider satisfaction (reported as overall handoff score, OHS). Secondary outcomes included the use of components outlined by the Joint Commission's guidelines for safe handoff. Data were collected using a Likert-style survey and collated using Microsoft Excel.


Baseline measures of OHS were 81.5 ± 19.4 (mean±SD) with an interval analysis showing no improvement (81.6±17.4, P=0.99). Further modifications were made to both education and process with an improved OHS (88.8±11.1, P<0.05). Certain specific handoff components showed the greatest improvement according to caregivers.


This practical, low-cost quality-improvement project may help others improve handoff communication and provide safe, high-quality care.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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