Patients face harm and danger every time medical malpractice takes place. A slip-up, no matter how small, can result in injuries and even deaths in some cases. Now, Akron’s Children Hospital has reported that it is taking patient care and safety seriously; the hospital is now working to improve patient handoffs.
According to national research led by a doctor at the hospital, using and establishing a standardized way of transferring patients between staff and shifts can help reduce handoff-related care failures. The report claims that these errors could be reduced by close to 70 percent.
How can transferring patients cause errors? The failure to share important information is at fault. Simple things like taking medications too closely together can be damaging to children and patients on strict regimens.
It’s reported that 23 different children’s hospitals all across the United States participated in this study. The study examined how standardizing procedures during handoffs affected nearly 8,000 patients.
It’s important that doctors and nurses are able to share information and care for patients in a way that protects patients from harm. In situations where patients are seen by multiple specialists and doctors, knowing what has and has not been given to the patient or which procedures aren’t working is key. With standardized methods for handoffs, it’s hoped that the staff will have more insight into the patients’ needs, reducing the risk for harm.
There are a few ways these handoffs have been developed. Having staff fill out paperwork every time a patient is transferred or waiting for staff to gather before discussing the handoff are two ways that are expected to work. Even taking the time to meet at the shift change face-to-face is an improvement, according to the research.
In settings where shift changes will happen, for example, nurses speaking about the patient directly may help reduce errors. It used to be that recorders and records would be used, but with no ability to ask questions, this was said to be too dangerous.