How to Improve Patient Care Through Effective Nursing Staff Handoffs

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Patient involvement in nursing shift handoffs improves patient care and quality, and proves the need for standardized protocols. LifeWings, a patient safety consulting firm, specializes in effective training of these patient safety protocols.

According to a study published in the Journal of Nursing Care Quality in 2013, nurses can improve care quality and reduce the risk for error by including the patient in bedside handoffs during shift changes. Handoff improvement is a national patient safety priority. Having patients involved in bedside handoffs helps patients better understand their care because they are actively engaged, and have the opportunity to discuss questions and concerns with their nurses. LifeWings, a patient safety consulting firm, provides training in communication protocols that have shown to have a positive effect on patient satisfaction and anxiety.

Communication is a major cause of medical mistakes. More than half of emergency medicine physicians said their emergency department does not have a standardized handoff process, according to a study in the American Journal of Medical Quality. A 2011 survey of 147 emergency medicine residency program leaders revealed a need for more and better handoff training of residents. Here are some key findings from the survey:

  •      56.6 percent of respondents said their ED does not use a standardized handoff protocol.
  •     Of the respondents that have a standardized protocol, 58.8 percent do not use it regularly.
  •     Only 12.5 percent of emergency medicine residency programs offer residents training in handoffs.
  •     On a scale of one to four, with one representing "not safe/effective" and four representing "extremely safe/effective," the average rating of the safety and effectiveness of respondents' current handoff system was 2.4.
  •     On a scale of one to four, with one being incompetent and four being extremely competent, the average rating of residents' competency in giving and receiving handoffs was 2.6.

The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education now requires residency programs to provide formal handoff education to trainees. LifeWings training offers solutions to these troubling statistics. LifeWings has had consistent, documented success helping clients achieve their improvement goals. The LifeWings programs are designed to provide optimal ROI and measurable, demonstrable, sustainable results. LifeWings has unparalleled experience at improving system processes to optimize the patient experience, eliminate waste, and enhance patient safety.

The LifeWings Leadership team is comprised of a team of physicians, nurses, former NASA astronauts, former military flight surgeons, pilots, flight crew, former military officers, and healthcare risk managers.

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Stephen Harden
Lifewings Partners, LLC
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Angela Myers
LifeWings Partners, LLC
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