• Study
  • Published October 2013

Effectiveness of written hospitalist sign-outs in answering overnight inquiries.

Despite consensus that the signout process between physicians should be standardized to reduce the risk of errors, the utility of written versus verbal signouts is still under investigation. Much research on effective signout techniques has focused on handoffs between residents, with comparatively little data on signouts between attending physicians. This descriptive study of hospitalists' signouts found that most hospitalists relied primarily on the signout to respond to overnight questions and consulted electronic medical records or other data sources less frequently. However, the utility of the written signout varied widely despite use of a template—for example, the written signout was not particularly helpful in assessing possible changes in a patient's clinical status. Given that information transfer with verbal signout has also been shown to be inadequate, this study indicates a need to further optimize both verbal and written signouts. An AHRQ WebM&M perspective discussed the current knowledge base regarding safe transitions of care for inpatients.

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