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Pediatr Crit Care Med. 2015 Mar;16(3):256-63. doi: 10.1097/PCC.0000000000000343.

Standardizing postoperative PICU handovers improves handover metrics and patient outcomes.

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1Division of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Duke Children's Hospital, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC. 2Division of Pediatric Anesthesia, Department of Anesthesia, Duke Children's Hospital, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC.



To improve handover communication and patient outcomes for postoperative admissions to a multidisciplinary PICU.


Prospective cohort study.


Multidisciplinary PICU in a university hospital.


The multidisciplinary team responsible for postoperative PICU admissions and patient care, including attending, fellow, house staff physicians, and nurses from pediatric critical care medicine, surgery, and anesthesia.


An online survey distributed to PICU, surgery, and anesthesia providers identified existing barriers and challenges to effective postoperative PICU handovers and guided the formation of a standard protocol. Handovers for postoperative PICU admissions were then directly observed for 3 months pre- and postimplementation of the protocol, with data collected on communication, metrics, and patient outcomes. Observations and data collection, as well as the online provider survey, were repeated approximately 1 year after handover protocol implementation.


Survey data demonstrated increases in provider ratings of handover attendance, communication, and quality after implementation of the handover protocol (p < 0.001). Surgical report errors were eliminated (p = 0.03), and the prevalence of provider attendance for the handover duration increased from 39.3% to 68.2% (p = 0.01). Following protocol implementation, fewer patients experienced antibiotic delays (34.5% to 13.9%; p = 0.03) or required hemodynamic or respiratory interventions within the first 6 hours of PICU admission (24.6% to 9.1%; p = 0.04). Patients received their first dose of analgesia (62.3 to 17.4 min; p = 0.01) and had their admission laboratory studies sent (42.3 to 32.9 min; p = 0.04) more quickly. Data collected at 12 months postimplementation demonstrated sustained reductions in analgesia timing, antibiotic delays, and handover barriers.


Postoperative communication and patient outcomes can be improved and sustained over time with implementation of a standardized handover protocol.

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