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Background and Objectives: Previous studies have emphasized the importance of effectual communication during patient handoffs. The objectives of this study were to (1) implement a resident-driven quality improvement project to improve handoffs by including key elements that are necessary for a safe and effective handoff. We chose to use the IPASS (illness severity, patient summary, action items, situation awareness and contingency planning, synthesis by receiver) mnemonic as our standardized handoff model; (2) Consider balancing measures in an effort to be aware of any negative effects of our interventions on resident satisfaction with the system.

Methods: A senior resident established a quality improvement team which developed an AIM statement (a written, measurable, and time-sensitive description of the goal of a quality improvement team) and key drivers. A survey was administered to residents regarding their opinions about the handoff process. Tracking of whether or not handoffs included the component IPASS elements was performed over an 11-month period. During this time frame, three Plan-Do-Study-Act cycles were conducted. The first was an educational series involving lecture and role playing. The second was printed cards listing appropriate handoff elements. Intervention three was development of a tool and method to decrease nurse interruptions during handoff.

Results: Inclusion of six key elements of handoffs improved as follows. Illness severity improved from 5% to 97%, diagnosis from 60% to 100%, patient summary from 71% to 100%, contingency planning from 10% to 100%, action list from 23% to 100%, and receiver synthesis from 0% to 97%. Balancing measures showed the residents were more satisfied with the new system and found it to be more effective at providing a safe transition of care.

Conclusion: Implementation of a resident-driven multidisciplinary IPASS handoff system resulted in improved inclusion of key handoff elements and increased resident satisfaction.


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