A recent study by Boston Children’s Hospital shows how medical errors can be reduced by changing the patient “hand-off” system. This “hand-off” refers to the critical period in patient care when a patient’s caregivers are changed due to a shift change or a new team of specialists is called in to consult on their patient’s care. Dr. Christopher Landrigan, the study’s principal investigator and Dr. Amy Starmer, the study’s lead author, found that by designing a system with three key components they were able to reduce the number of medical errors related to miscommunication. These three key components include standardized communication and handoff training, a verbal mnemonic and a new team handoff structure. The results of their study demonstrated that patients experienced fewer errors as a result of the system change.
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