Journal Article

The value of adding a verbal report to written handoffs on early readmission following prolonged respiratory failure.

Hess DR; Tokarczyk A; O’Malley M; Gavaghan S; Sullivan J; Schmidt U.

Teamwork and communication failures are a continued threat to patient safety. Intensive care units (ICU) have demonstrated the impact of different strategies to address these failures and improve patient outcomes. This study, targeting patients with prolonged respiratory failure, involved adding a verbal telephone report to an existing written one during transfer from the ICU. While the strengthened handoff process was associated with a trend toward reduced readmissions, its most impressive impact was on the total cost of care per patient, which fell significantly. Investigators estimated that nearly $185,000 was saved per 100 discharges, arguing that their intervention represents an improvement in the value of care (quality divided by cost) for this population. An accompanying editorial [see link below] discusses the implications of these findings and the broader role of poor communication in medical errors.