Medical Insurance Expert Witness On Handoff Communications Part 2

Literature reports several tools that have been developed in hospitals to improve handoff communication. One such tool used when patients are being transported to radiology or other departments within the hospital is called a “round trip ticket”, a one page, patient-information sheet that provides basic patient information. Simple questions are answered by checking off boxes….
The DATAS tool was described for handoff communication between nurses such as shift changes.
D – Demographic and diet A – Assessments and allergies (to include new medications)
T – Newly ordered tests and tests results A – Alerts such as isolation or Do Not Resuscitate S – Status of patient within the care plan and discharge process The SBAR was first described in the literature as the handoff communication tool used in the military setting for communications between nurses and physicians. It has been adopted by many hospitals and contains these key elements.
• patient Situation • Background information (diagnosis, labs, medications, other pertinent clinical information • Nurse Assessment of the current situation • Request related to the problem being reported by nursing.
There are many other tools which have been developed by hospitals. Regardless of the tool used it is clear that improving the process and qualify of information being handed off will reduce errors and improve patient safety. The legal nurse consultant would be prudent to look for evidence of effective handoff communication when review patient records.