PURPOSE Ineffective handoffs contribute to gaps in patient care and medication errors, which jeopardize patient safety and lead to poor-quality care. The project aims are to develop and implement a standardized handoff process using an electronic medical record (EMR)–based tool to ensure optimal communication of treatment-related information for patients receiving cancer treatment between oncology nurses. METHODS A multidisciplinary team convened to develop a standard and safe treatment handoff process. The intervention was developed over a series of phases using Plan-Do-Study-Act methodology, including current workflow process mapping; identifying gaps, limitations, and potential causes of ineffective handoffs; and prioritizing these using a Pareto chart. An EMR-based tool incorporating a standardized treatment handoff process was developed. Study outcomes included proportion of handoff-related medication errors, tool utilization, handoff completion, patient waiting time, and nurse satisfaction with tool. All outcomes were evaluated before and after the intervention over a 1-year period. RESULTS The proportion of medication errors as a result of ineffective handoffs was reduced from 10 of 17 (60%) pre-intervention to 11 of 34 (32%) postintervention (P = .07). The EMR-based handoff tool was used in 9,274 of 10,910 (85%) patient treatment visits, and the handoff completion rate increased from 32% pre-intervention to 86% postintervention. Patient waiting time showed an average reduction of 2 minutes/patient/month. A majority of nurses reported that the new tool conveyed necessary information (85% of nurses) and was effective in preventing errors (81% of nurses). CONCLUSION Multidisciplinary stakeholders guided the development and implementation of a standard handoff process and an EMR-based tool to optimize communication between nurses during patient transition. The intervention was associated with a reduction in the proportion of medication errors as the result of ineffective handoffs. In addition, the intervention improved communication between nurses.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health Policy