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Farnborough, UK: Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch; June 2022.

Handoffs between prehospital emergency medical services (EMS) providers and hospital emergency departments (EDs) can be suboptimal, which increases patient harm potential. This interim report examines National Health Service discharge delays. It suggests a systemic approach is needed to address flow and capacity factors that contribute to ineffective and unsafe interfacility discharge and transfer.
Buitrago I, Seidl KL, Gingold DB, et al. J Healthc Qual. 2022;44:169-177.
Reducing hospital 30-day readmissions is seen as a way to improve safety and reduce costs. Baltimore City mobile integrated health and community paramedicine (MIH-CP) was designed to improve transitional care from hospital to home. After one year in operation, MIH-CP performed a chart review to determine causes of readmission among patients in the program. Root cause analysis indicated that at least one social determinant of health (e.g., health literacy) played a role in preventable readmissions; the program was modified to improve transitional care.
Mueller SK, Shannon E, Dalal A, et al. J Patient Saf. 2021;17:e752-e757.
This single-site survey of resident and attending physicians across multiple specialties uncovered multiple safety vulnerabilities in the process of interhospital transfer. Investigators found that physicians and patients were both dissatisfied with timing of transfers and that critical patient records were missing upon transfer. These issues raise safety concerns for highly variable interhospital transfer practices.
Dr. Brice is Professor and Chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of North Carolina. She also serves as the Program Director for the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Fellowship and was past-president of the National Association of EMS Physicians. We spoke with her about her experience working in emergency medical systems and safety concerns particular to this field.
To transfer a man with possible sepsis to a hospital with subspecialty and critical care, a physician was unaware of a formal protocol and called a colleague at the academic medical center. The colleague secured a bed, and the patient was sent over. However, neither clinical data nor the details of the patient's current condition were transmitted to the hospital's transfer center, and the receiving physician booked a general ward bed rather than an ICU bed. When the patient arrived, his mentation was altered and breathing was rapid.
Sujan MA, Chessum P, Rudd M, et al. J Health Serv Res Policy. 2015;20:17-25.
Patient handoffs are a major challenge for patient safety, especially when patients move between different units or organizations. Analysis of 270 handoffs between ambulances to emergency departments (EDs) and EDs to inpatient units uncovered many tensions and themes, such as how competing patient flow priorities can impact the quality of handoffs.
Balka E, Tolar M, Coates S, et al. Int J Med Inform. 2013;82:e345-57.
This ethnographic case study explored patient handoffs across different situations, including pre-hospital and primary care settings. These analyses emphasize numerous contextual issues that need be considered when creating computerized systems to support handoffs.
Kingston, ACT: Australian Medical Association; 2006.
This report outlines best practices for patient transfer and shares experiences from the field for Australian physicians and health care organizations that seek to improve their handoff processes.