Initiative to Standardize Handoff Communications Reduces Medical Errors by 40%

May 9, 2012 | Strategic Insights for Health System


A new patient safety initiative called I-PASS, which standardizes handoff communications during hospital shift changes, can reduce medical errors by as much as 40%, states an April 29, 2012, Boston Children’s Hospital news release. Developed by Boston Children’s Hospital and currently being implemented and tested in 10 pediatric training programs across North America, I-PASS has several major elements bundled into a single intervention. The elements include training for clinicians in communication and teamwork skills using the TeamSTEPPS program developed by the Department of Defense and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, an easy-to-remember mnemonic to ensure that key information is imparted in each handoff (Illness severity; Patient summary; Action list for the next team; Situation awareness and contingency plans; Synthesis and “read-back” of the information), a printed handoff document that can be integrated into the patient’s electronic medical record, and direct, structured observation of handoffs by senior physicians, with feedback.

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