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Title:The need for standardization: Intraprofessional communication among physicians during handoffs in hospital settings
Author(s):Davis, Kristen
Advisor(s):Notaro, Stephen J.
Department / Program:Kinesiology & Community Health
Discipline:Community Health
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
intraprofessional communication
Abstract:Communication in any relationship is not a simple matter. The transference of a message to another person can become more of a problem then a solution. Communication is often riddled with mistakes and errors. This can become especially problematic when someone’s life is on the line. A study involving 28 hospitals reviewed the causes of adverse events and found that communication errors were the leading underlying cause, associated with twice as many deaths as was clinical inadequacy (Wilson, Runciman, Gibberd, Harrison, & Hamilton, 1995). Although there are multiple hospital scenarios where this may be the central issue at hand, one of these situations occurs thousands of times every day in the United States. This specific situation is called a handoff. As astonishing as the procedure of a handoff is when the intricacy of today’s complex patients is considered, this astonishment will intensify when the exact number of daily transfers is taken into account. In 2006, The Joint Commission added handoff communication to their list of National Patient Safety Goals. In academic teaching hospitals, the Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education set restrictions intended to reduce the resident’s sleep deprivation. Although these time reductions and restrictions may alleviate the negative effects of sleep deprivation on physician health and patient safety, they have also resulted in increased number of handoffs. Successful information flow during shift change has a vital influence on the provision of healthcare. It is of extreme importance that information is shared correctly during shift changes, such as during a handoff situation. This specific paper reviewed literature concerned with the complexities of handoffs as well as suggests a need for all medical students to have the same systematic training on what a handoff must consist of in order to be effective. Also, third and fourth year medical students affiliated with an Illinois university medical school completed a handoff and communication survey. The results showed that 74 percent of students felt that poor communication between doctors was a significant problem in the clinical workplace. Seventy-seven percent of student respondents reported that they were not receiving feedback on their handoff communication. The purpose of this study was to better understand handoff communication and to propose that all medical students have the same standardized training related to handoff communication. The lack of standardization in teaching communication skills during medical school allows the problem to persist. The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education has recognized the importance of communication skills for a patient’s care (Reid, Moorthy, & Forshaw, 2005). The Joint Commission has also recognized the importance of handoff communication, as their second goal requires all healthcare providers to "implement a standardized approach to handoff communications including an opportunity to ask and respond to questions," (The Joint Commission, 2006). Communication difficulties cannot be allowed to compromise patient care, especially as the health sector continually grows.
Issue Date:2012-05-22
Rights Information:Copyright 2012 Kristen Davis
Date Available in IDEALS:2012-05-22
Date Deposited:2012-05

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