Implementation of a postoperative handoff protocol

J. J.N. Van Der Walt, A. T. Scholl, I. A. Joubert, M. A. Petrovic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Standardised handoff protocols have become necessary patient safety tools in the perioperative venue. In this study, the authors took a validated standardised perioperative handoff protocol and implemented it into their institution to improve the perioperative handoff communications from the cardiac operating theatres to the ICU. Methods: This was a prospective, unblinded cross-sectional study. During a 6-week pre-intervention phase, 30 perioperative handoffs were observed and data were collected. Then a new structured hand-off protocol was implemented for one month, which focused on training all participating healthcare providers. This was followed by a post-intervention audit consisting of 30 operating room theatre-to-ICU handoffs using the same methodology as the pre-intervention period. Results: Overall attendance significantly increased from 20 to 86.7%. The percentage of parallel conversations decreased from 100% pre-intervention to 60% post-intervention (p < 0.0001). The mean number of interruptions of the anaesthesiology handoff report decreased from 3.37 to 0.77 (p < 0.0001) and of the surgery report from 1.84 to 0.27 (p < 0.0001). Information-sharing scores improved among all handoff attendees with the Overall Information Sharing Score (OISS) increasing from 51.47 to 88.24% (p < 0.0001). Conclusions: The implementation of a perioperative handoff protocol resulted in a drastic improvement in attendance, decrease in the number of interruptions, and improved information sharing. Future research should focus on patient-specific outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-37
Number of pages5
JournalSouthern African Journal of Anaesthesia and Analgesia
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2016


  • Handoffs
  • Handover
  • ICU handoff
  • Patient safety
  • Perioperative handoff

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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