Standardization improves postoperative patient handoff experience for junior clinicians

Amit Prasad, Theodore J. Cios, Whitney Staub-Juergens, Carol Dziedzina, Srikantha Rao, Kai Singbartl

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: Effective communication among health care providers is critically important for patient safety. Handoff of patient care from the operating room (OR) to the intensive care unit (ICU) is particularly prone to errors. The process is more complicated in an academic environment in which junior clinicians are being trained. Standardization of, and training in, transitions of care can be a crucial means to improve patient safety. STUDY DESIGN: Pre- and postintervention surveys of health care providers. METHODS: Based on a workflow analysis and qualitative needs assessments, we developed a 3-step protocol to standardize the handoff of care from the OR to the ICU for adult patients after cardiac surgery and to provide an effective learning environment. The process starts during surgery, continues when the patient leaves the OR, and concludes with the actual face-to-face transfer of care between providers, at the bedside, in the ICU. We conducted pre- and postimplementation surveys among physician trainees and nursing staff regarding their perception of the handoff process. RESULTS: We surveyed 42 clinicians before and 33 after implementation of the handoff process. Prior to implementation, most clinicians expressed a need to improve the current process; this perceived need was significantly greater in health care professionals with 4 or fewer years of experience. Post implementation, clinicians saw a significant improvement in information provided, efficiency, relevance to patient care, and psychological safety, a concept in which participants feel accepted and respected in a group setting without fear of negative consequences or judgement. CONCLUSIONS: Our workflow-oriented, standardized process for handoff of care from the OR to the ICU can improve perceived communication and psychological safety, especially for junior clinicians.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E184-E190
JournalAmerican Journal of Managed Care
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health Policy


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