Transfer of responsibility and information about patient care between clinicians (i.e. handover) is a safety-critical phase of a patient’s journey. Research on adverse events in healthcare shows that problems in coordination and communication during patient handover represent a major threat to patient safety in a multitude of healthcare settings. Thus, patient handover has recently become a key process addressed by research priorities (e.g. EU FP7 Health Call) and by system-based interventions to improve patient safety (e.g. High 5s initiative supported by WHO). The proposed research project will contribute to scientific knowledge concerning safe transitions of care by identifying handover strategies that help clinicians to assure continuity of care and maintain safety of surgical patients during care transitions between anaesthesia and the recovery room or the intensive care unit (ICU). The proposed research project consists of three work packages: 1) a field study of patient handover using ethnographic observations and critical incident interviews to extract aspects of current handover practice which help to create and maintain safety for patients being transferred from anaesthesia to recovery room / ICU, 2) the development of a measure for assessing the quality and safety of patient handover from anaesthesia to recovery room / ICU that integrates aspects of “technical” (i.e. information accuracy and completeness) and “non-technical” performance (i.e. cognitive and social skills involving decision making and team work) , and 3) a field study using structured observations to investigate the effectiveness of different handover practices in relation to the safety of patient transfers (determined using the above measure). This study will contribute to the advancement of patient safety by providing important input on effective patient handover guidelines and training modules that can be integrated into the education of undergraduate and practising health professionals.
Fields of science
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