Survey Reports Poor Communication during Transfers of Surgical Patient Care in Canadian Hospitals

June 19, 2013 | Strategic Insights for Health System


Breakdowns in communication during handoffs of patient care pose a significant preventable patient safety risk, according to a survey report of resident physicians in surgery training programs in Canadian hospitals published in the June 2013 Canadian Journal of Surgery. Residents responded to questions about their current patient handoff practices, with one-third of the respondents rating the quality of handoff communication as “poor,” and only 10% identifying the quality as “good.” Poor-quality handoffs resulted in the experience of “minor harm” by 2.7 patients per surveyed resident, and 0.6 patients per surveyed resident reportedly experienced “major harm,” according to the survey report. Respondents reported experiencing clinical uncertainty resulting from poor handoffs and that overnight coverage and weekend handoffs carried the most risk to confident decision making.

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