NURS6125, section 23, Integrating Theory and Research for Evidence-Based Practice February 12, 2011
Reviewing the Literature
Patient handoffs are an integral part of taking care of people in all patient care settings. Patient handoffs occur at many different times throughout a facility including shift changes, provider break times, inter-departmental transfers, when a patient may travel for testing. Patient handoff definitions vary widely, but the most simplified version found was anytime responsibility for the patient shifts from one provider to another (Dorsey & Litzenburg, 2010). Although essential for care, these necessary information exchanges are extremely high-risk for patients. Communication errors were found to be a factor in two-thirds of sentinel events over a ten year period (Riesenberg, Leitzsch, & Cunningham, 2010). Since that has been shown, it is believed amongst the health community that standardizing handoffs would result in safer care (Patterson & Wears, 2010).
After a thorough review of the literature, it seems that there is much opinion about the subject of patient handoff, but not as much actual evidence. Riesenberg, et., al. (2010) conducted a systematic review of the literature on patient handoffs from 1987 through August 2008, using recognized, peer-reviewed , databases such as Ovid and CINAHL. Of the original 2,649 articles identified 469 were reviewed further. Of those studies only 95 met criteria to be assessed further (Riesenberg, et. al., 2010). The purpose of the research was to seek common themes in both barriers and effective strategies in quantitative and qualitative studies on patient handoffs (Riesenberg, et. al., 2010).
75 qualitative studies were identified and analyzed using content analysis (Riesenberg, et. al., 2010). 20 quantitative studies were identified and analyzed using a modified Downs and Black scale called The Quality Scoring System (Riesenberg, et. al., 2010). Using...