ED Sign-Out Protocol Reduces Risks of Unstructured Patient Handoffs

September 11, 2013 | Strategic Insights for Health System


Emergency department (ED) patient handoffs are “fraught with risk and vulnerability” and lack a standard process for the outgoing physician to transfer the patient’s care to the incoming physician, says an article on ED sign-outs in the August 2013 issue of ED Management. To add structure to the process, physician leaders at Emergency Medicine Associates (Germantown, Maryland), a group of ED providers serving hospitals in the mid-Atlantic region, developed a sign-out protocol, called Safer Sign Out, that is now available to all EDs from the nonprofit Emergency Medicine Patient Safety Foundation. The paper-based tool incorporates three elements to ensure that important information about the patient’s care is communicated to the oncoming ED physician, the care team, and the patient.

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