Improving the quality of handover by addressing handover culture and introducing a new, multi-disciplinary, team-based handover meeting
Handover is a “major preventable cause of patient harm” and this project aims to improve the quality of night handover within a teaching hospitals general medicine department, resulting in the safe transfer of patient care to the night team.
Quality of handover was assessed both qualitatively, via structured qualitative interviews with trainees and a baseline survey assessing doctor’s opinions of night handover, and quantitatively through the collection of a data set during regular observation of night handover.
The initial intervention instituted a new handover meeting with a set time and new location and invited the night nurse practitioner to attend. A prompt card, standardised documentation, defined leadership, and an attendance register were also introduced. Successive PDSA cycles introduced technology to the intervention, enabled the nurse night practitioners to actually attend and re-branded the prompt card as an agenda.
Results show a sustained reduction in length of handover from 70 minutes (n=7) to 34 minutes (n=13) post-intervention as well as a reduction in the number of distractions occurring during each handover from a mean of 14 to a mean of 8.5. An improved quality of handover was also demonstrated with an overall increase in the percentage of task handovers containing hospital number, an admitting diagnosis, comorbidities and a time allocated for the task to be performed of at least 10%. When trainees were surveyed post-implementation they unanimously identified the new handover system as safer than the previous handover process (n=30).
This project demonstrates that replacing an ad-hoc system of handover with a multi-disciplinary, team based approach to handover improves handover quality. In addition it provides a useful guide to introducing a new handover meeting to a department and contains useful lessons on how to combat cultural barriers to change within a department.
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