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Resident Handoff Program Nearly Halves Medical Errors — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
December 4, 2013

Resident Handoff Program Nearly Halves Medical Errors

By Amy Orciari Herman

Implementation of a standardized resident handoff program at one U.S. children's hospital led to significant reductions in medical errors and adverse events. The findings appear in JAMA.

The multifaceted program, directed at residents and senior interns, included communication training, a mnemonic for verbal handoffs, and designated quiet locations for handoffs. Some 600 admissions before the program began were compared with 600 admissions after the intervention.

The rate of medical errors decreased between the two periods, from 33.8 to 18.3 per 100 admissions. Similarly, preventable adverse events decreased, from 3.3 to 1.5 per 100. Physicians were able to spend more time with patients during the intervention period.

An editorialist says the study, while preliminary, "presents tantalizing evidence that improving handoffs can actually reduce harm to patients." While we await data from larger studies, she adds, "it is reasonable to ensure that at least basic elements of safe handoffs are in place."

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