The following white paper will be available for download upon filling out the form below:
Closing the Safety Gap in Patient Handoffs
Leveraging Technology to Build the Safety Net
by Glenn D. Focht, M.D., Medical Director
There has never been a time in American healthcare when the need for effective handoffs among providers and care teams has been more critical. The days for rushed, scribbled handoffs or a quick phone call simply listing who is on the inpatient service must end if patients are to be cared for safely. At the same time that this clinical need is growing, the time demands for hospitalists, house officers and hospital-based providers are increasing. The need for higher provider to inpatient ratios, driven by economic demands, is placing additional time demands on already busy hospitalist team members. Regulatory changes enacted by the American Council of Graduate Medical Education in July, 2011, also create new challenges. These regulations necessitate additional handoffs be constructed across virtually all teaching services. As a result, the barriers to safe, coordinated care of the inpatient have increased and not been mitigated. The necessity of effective handoffs between providers must be built in a managed, sustainable process that leverages technology and creates the time to do this vital work. An exploration of the current safety burden, barriers to this work and recommendations that address both, are outlined for clinicians, healthcare administrators and quality and safety staff.